The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is reminding residents that counterfeit pills containing fentanyl are being distributed within the community.
Over the past several months, the Erie County Central Police Services forensic laboratory has seen a steady influx of counterfeit alprazolam and oxycodone tablets seized by law enforcement agencies. In many cases, the counterfeit pills contain fentanyl or dangerous derivatives that are likely to be unknown to the user and may result in an overdose. ECDOH said purchasing or obtaining medication from anyone other than a licensed pharmacy is extremely risky and may result in consuming substances that are unknown and deadly to the user.
From 2019 to 2020, Erie County experienced a 57% increase in confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths. ECDOH said fentanyl can be present in tablets, capsules and other solutions. Inhalation, even if unknown, of the airborne powder is most likely to lead to harmful effects including death. Incidental skin contact from handling tablets containing fentanyl may occur and result in harmful effects.
“The volume of suspected opioid-related overdose deaths currently under investigation by the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office is alarming,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “These losses are tragic and devastating to families. We have to get the message out that counterfeit pills can kill.”
ECDOH is reminding residents that Narcan and naloxone, if administered in a timely manner, can reverse the deadly effects of an opioid overdose. Request a free Narcan kit by calling 716)-858-7695 or send a text to 716-225-5473.
•Those seeking help can call the Buffalo and Erie County Crisis Services addiction hotline 24/7 at 716-831-7007.
•ECDOH said those struggling with substance use disorder should always carry Narcan.
•ECDOH’s “Text to Narcan” program has expanded access to free Narcan kits. Erie County residents can text 716-225-5473 to receive Narcan.
•Free Narcan kits are available from ECDOH staff and at outreach events.
•Free emergency Narcan boxes are available for businesses and organizations to install in accessible areas in their facility. ECDOH will resupply these boxes with free Narcan kits as needed. Call 716-858-7695.
•Local hospital emergency departments at ECMC, Kaleida Health and Catholic Health are able to connect patients with immediate medication assisted treatment and other resources. Visit https://mattersnetwork.org/community-resources/.
•ECDOH has resumed limited in-person Narcan trainings in addition to virtual trainings. Register at www.erie.gov/opioidtrainings or watch a short video on “How to Save a Life with Narcan” at http://youtube.com/watch?v=j8V3JkJ2sZw.