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Police Warn Of Counterfeit Opioid Pills That Look Like The Real Thing

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Broward Sheriff's Office says drug dealers in the community are creating fake prescription drugs containing fentanyl, prompting a safety alert for the county.

"I will challenge anybody even a pharmacist to be able to tell the difference between a well-done counterfeit drug and the real thing," said David Scharf, the director of community programs at the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Scharf says criminals have stepped up their counterfeit game when it comes to mimicking prescription opioids.

"The pill press that we have confiscated, and that we've seen, are producing pills that are identical to the pharmaceutical grade. They appear to be pharmaceutical grade and they're not," he said.

Scharf adds the counterfeit oxycodone, hydrocodone and alprazolam or stimulants, like amphetamines, are far from the real thing. Instead, the drugs are being made with fentanyl, which can be so potent that it could be used to take down an elephant.

"As an example, carfentanil, which is one of the analogues we've seen on the streets of Broward County, can be 10,000 times more powerful and can kill a human being with a microscopic amount. So, we're extremely concerned with that… so the same dose that would take down an elephant will obviously kill a human being within seconds," added Scharf.

And officials worry that as those doses of the counterfeit pills hit the street in Broward County more death will soon follow.

In fact, statewide in 2020, fentanyl caused more deaths than any other drug with a record 5,800 overdoses. Broward and Miami-Dade Counties accounted almost a thousand of those deaths, and the majority of those people were between 34 and 50.

"The typical victim of an opioid-related fentanyl overdose is a 34-year-old white male. The drug is showing no mercy to anyone. Don't trust anything. Don't trust anything. If you're an opioid user or abuser and you're in the throes of addiction, we are requesting that you seek help immediately because the next pill that you take could be your last one," added Scharf.

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