The following February (2014), the CCSA and CCENDU issued an updated warning to alert the public about the increasing availability of fake or counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing illicit Fentanyl . According to the alert, the pills resemble 10mg and 80mg Oxycontin pills. "Some are green and stamped with “CDN” on one side and the number 80 on the other (see Figure 1). [...] While the green tablets appear to be more widely available, pills have also surfaced that are white with the number 10 stamped in place of the 80." Using Health Canada's Drug Analysis Service (DAS) for verification, it was determined that tablets seized by law enforcement agencies contained Fentanyl 89% of the time, and were occasionally found to consist of Alprazolam or Ketamine.
"After verification with Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service (DAS), laboratory tests of seized counterfeit oxycodone tablets (different brands, sizes and colours) were most often found to contain fentanyl (89% of the time). Much less frequently tablets were found to contain Alprazolam or Ketamine as the active ingredient. Note that DAS only analyzes a subset of the substances seized by law enforcement agencies, which would also be a subset of the substances found on the illicit market." - February 2014 CCSA Alert
Just as I was writing this, the CCSA & CCENDU issued yet another alert on February 6, 2014. This latest alert warns that there "continues to be reports of fatal and non- fatal overdoses that are suspected or confirmed to involve non-pharmaceutical (illicit) fentanyl." The report also states that most of the overdoses that occurred took place in users under the age of 40 who unknowingly ingested the illicit Fentanyl.
Visually, some versions of the pills are quite similar from the outside.
Over the past several years, Heroin cut with Fentanyl or powdered Fentanyl being sold as Heroin has become a dangerous problem in many areas all across Canada, as well as in the US. Even when a seasoned user unknowingly injects Fentanyl (up to 100 times more powerful than Morphine), or a Fentanyl-Heroin mix, there is a serious risk of overdose and death.
Regardless of the associated risks, people are going to continue to use drugs. That isn't news. So how do we actually make an impact, and reduce the amount of accidental overdose and death due to bad batches and counterfeit drugs?
LEGALIZE AND REGULATE.