CLINTON — A new threat regarding the deadly opioid epidemic has been discovered in Iowa.
On Monday, four prevalent state public safety entities issued a joint statement announcing the emergence of a new synthetic opioid drug that comes in the form of counterfeit pain pills. The state's Department of Public Health, the Department of Public Safety, Poison Control Center, and Office of Drug Control Policy partnered to release the facts, confirmed recently by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations lab.
Specific locations in Iowa that have seen the counterfeit cases were not announced in the statement.
According to the statement, in each case the pills have been produced to resemble prescription oxycodone pain relievers; however, it's been discovered that they contain potentially lethal synthetic substances fentanyl and U-47700.
Both fentanyl and U-47700, commonly called "pink," have shown potencies far more powerful than morphine, making accidental overdoses increasingly common as more cases emerge.
"As the (Drug Enforcement Agency) warns, counterfeit pills like those found in Iowa that are not prescribed or dispensed by healthcare professionals may contain deadly amounts of fentanyls or other synthetic opioids," the statement reads. "Because some illicit synthetic opioids can be highly lethal when touched or inhaled, Iowans are cautioned against handling or using prescription medicine, or anything else resembling prescription medicine, if it's not issued by an authorized healthcare provider."
The state agencies continued to stress that prescription medications issued by medical professionals are no cause for alarm.
The Gateway ImpACT Coalition and the Clinton County Health Department were not immediately available on Monday for comment regarding any possible cases of counterfeit pills in the area.