Deadly fake oxycodone pills that look 'professional' are popping up in Ohio, worrying officials

PAINESVILLE,Ohio — Fake oxycodone pills, which have already proven deadly, are popping up on the streets of Northeast Ohio.

“You can put them side by side and can’t tell the difference,” said Douglas Rohde, Supervisor of Chemistry and Toxicology at the Lake County Crime Lab.

Just looking at the tablets it is impossible to tell the difference between real ones and fake ones.

“This is something new and once again very dangerous,” Rohde said.

The Lake County Crime Lab has seen cases involving the fake opioid skyrocket 50 percent in the last six months.

Rohde has worked at the lab for almost 20 years. He said it used to be easy to spot a fake pill.

“Now the quality is so professional that not even the pharmaceutical companies that produce them can tell what is produced illicitly,” Rohde said.

Chemists at the Lake County Crime Lab analyzed the fake pills. They found the pills filled with sugar, acetaminophen or potentially deadly fentanyl or carfentanyl opioids. Officials said criminals are buying pill presses off the black market and are making the fake pills either here in the United States or at clandestine labs in Mexico.

Now officials are warning people who buy pills off the street about buying them anywhere but at a pharmacy and with a prescription.

“We’re warning drug addicts, if you think you are buying oxycodone off the streets, there is a very good chance you are not, and you are purchasing something that could be deadly,” said Rohde. 

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