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Fake Xanax Blamed In San Francisco Woman's Death, Others Sickened

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Health officials in San Francisco say fake Xanax pills have killed one woman and are making others extremely sick.

The city's Department of Public Health said paramedics rushed two men and a woman to a San Francisco hospital last week after they took pills thought to be Xanax. Paramedics found a fourth person already dead in the same home.

Doctors said the Xanax pills turned out to be fake and contained an extremely strong chemical known as fentanyl, which can cause overdose and death.

"This is particularly concerning to me because it involves a pill, Xanax, that is commonly bought by people who are looking to, say, calm down from a night of partying," Dr. Phillip Coffin of the health department told KPIX 5.

The medical examiner said the San Francisco woman who died is 34-year-old Andrea Choye.

"The front and the back look almost identical to a real Xanax pill. It's extremely hard to distinguish them," Coffin said.

Officials said recreational drug users often buy Xanax off the street and on Craigslist to knock themselves out.

San Francisco health officers will talk to their counterparts in Contra Costa County to see if they're dealing with the same problem. On Thursday, paramedics rushed several Pinole Valley High School students to the ER. The students said they took Xanax, but doctors don't know yet if those were real or fake pills.

"It would not surprise me," Coffin said.

The Contra Costa County Health Department said as of Friday afternoon, they haven't tested the Xanax pills the students at Pinole Valley High took.

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