Counterfeit Pills: What You Need to Know

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Authentic oxycodone M30 tablets (top) vs. counterfeit oxycodone M30 tablets containing fentanyl (bottom).
Authentic oxycodone M30 tablets (top) vs. counterfeit oxycodone M30 tablets containing fentanyl (bottom).

As our nation remains in the midst of an opioid crisis, another disturbing trend has emerged: the selling and the use of counterfeit medication. 

These pills, which are often sold online, look like legitimate prescription meds such as oxycodone or Adderall. In fact, people buy them believing that they are similar to the pills you would get from the doctor. 

But many of these fake pills actually contain different ingredients and are laced with dangerous – and sometimes deadly – amounts of the synthetic opioid fentanyl or methamphetamine.  

Chances are that you’ve heard one of many tragic overdose stories connected to the use of counterfeit pills. 

Earlier this year, the 16-year old son of famous television therapist Dr. Laura Berman died after overdosing on fentanyl. Berman believes her son bought the drug, which he thought was Xanax, from a dealer on Snapchat.  

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently issued a message to warn Americans about the dangers of counterfeit pills. 


Where Did They Come From? 

Most of these pills are produced in other countries; mainly China, Mexico, and India. However, an increasing number of pills laced with fentanyl are being produced in the U.S.  

They are usually produced in substandard conditions, labeled incorrectly, and may include dangerous, unapproved substances. There are no quality control mechanisms in the illicit labs producing counterfeit pills to ensure dosing is not lethal.  

As stated earlier, online sales via internet marketplaces and social media are the major sources for obtaining counterfeit pills. A significant number of high school and college students purchase Adderall and Xanax from dark web drug markets and/or through social media referrals. 


Check out our new factsheet to learn more about counterfeit pills.


See Related:

Educating Snapchatters on the Dangers of Fentanyl (Snap Chat)

Download the Counterfeit Pills Fact Card (PDF)

Buying Drugs Online: What You Should Know & How to Proctect Your Kids


Learn more about prescription medicine misuse:

Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Misuse Medicine (DEA)



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