When Charlie, my healthy 22–year–old son, died in May 2020, I had heard of fentanyl; I didn’t know it was common in street drugs. I soon learned that a bootleg formulation of the potent, deadly opioid was the main ingredient in the fake Percocet that killed my son. Of the 108,000 poison pill deaths in 2021, 80% were due to these realistic looking “fentapills,” which are intentionally designed to look like familiar medications, such as Oxycodone and Xanax.
When I recount Charlie’s death, a common reaction is “Wait. What? Fake pills with fentanyl?” I then explain drug traffickers are intentionally making counterfeit prescription pills and selling them as legitimate medications, often to unsuspecting young people who are seeking to relive stress or otherwise self–medicate. This is no fluke. This is their new business model. Regrettably, it is here to stay.