Quarterly percentage of deaths more than doubled with evidence of counterfeit pill use from July to September 2019 to October to December 2021
By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 6, 2023 (HealthDay News) — There has been an increase in the percentage of drug overdose deaths with evidence of counterfeit pill use in the United States, according to a study published in the Sept. 1 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Julie O’ Donnell, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues described trends in overdose deaths with evidence of counterfeit pill use during July 2019 to December 2021 in 29 states and the District of Columbia and examined characteristics of deaths with and without evidence of counterfeit pill use in 34 states and the District of Columbia during 2021.
The researchers found a more than doubling in the quarterly percentage of deaths with evidence of counterfeit pill use from 2.0 percent during July to September 2019 to 4.7 percent during October to December 2021; in Western jurisdictions, there was a more than tripling (from 4.7 to 14.7 percent). In 41.4 percent of deaths with evidence of counterfeit pill use and 19.5 percent of deaths without evidence, illicitly manufactured fentanyls (IMFs) were the only drugs involved. Decedents with versus those without evidence of counterfeit pill use were younger, more often Hispanic or Latino, and more often had a history of prescription drug use. Among deaths with evidence of counterfeit pill use, smoking was the most common noningestion drug use route (39.5 percent).
“Counterfeit pills can expose new populations to highly potent drugs such as IMFs and illicit benzodiazepines, and persons using pills might not be aware of their contents,” the authors write.
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