Warning Issued About Counterfeit Prescription Pills

Monday, February 8, 2016
The leaders of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services issued a unified message Monday, warning the public about an increase in the prevalence of counterfeit prescription drugs in Tennessee.

“TBI Drug Agents and Forensic Scientists are discovering that pills being sold on the street as Percocet are actually fake, but with very dangerous consequences. More and more, we are seeing drugs being made in clandestine labs that contain fentanyl,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “We need to make the public abundantly clear that this is a life-threatening danger.”

"Drug dealers are preying on citizens of our state who have drug addictions," Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.
"Fake pills containing fentanyl are a new, deadly twist to the drug challenge we face.  The Governor's Public Safety Action Plan addresses the drug challenge in its many parts. We need a sense of urgency."

Officials said that in recent months, approximately two dozen case submissions from counties across Tennessee have shared a common, concerning trend: Pills shaped, colored, and stamped to look like a particular type of prescription medication have proven to be something different in laboratory analysis. 

In May 2015, a Tennessee law enforcement agency recovered what appeared to be several 30mg pills of oxycodone during a traffic stop. Each was the same size and featured the signature A/215 stamp characteristic of oxycodone. However, laboratory analysis performed by TBI forensic scientists indicated the pills were counterfeit and did not contain oxycodone. Instead, they contained fentanyl, a pain killer 50 times as potent as heroin that can be deadly in high doses.

“When people sell fake pills appearing to be oxycodone but actually containing the more powerful pain medicine fentanyl, lives are at risk,” said Tennessee Department of Health Chief Medical Officer David Reagan, MD, PhD. “Buying or using fake pills is unwise for many reasons, the most important of which is the possibility of death from overdose. We strongly advise those with dependence on pain pills to seek help, as addiction is a treatable disease. Family and friends of those with dependence should obtain naloxone, the overdose antidote now available in Tennessee.”

In late January, while executing a search warrant at a home in the 4600 block of Massa Road in Cookeville, authorities discovered approximately 300 pills stamped with markings characteristic of Percocet. However, laboratory analysis performed by TBI forensic scientists determined the pills instead contained fentanyl, a pain killer 50 times as potent as heroin that can be deadly in high doses.

“If you buy a pill off the street, it’s like playing Russian roulette,” said Winchester Police Chief Dennis Young. “You just don’t know what’s in it. Just one pill, or even half a pill, could be enough to kill you.”

The Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services says there are resources available for those addicted to opioid-based drugs without having to satisfy their fix by purchasing drugs from street dealers. “These transactions with total strangers are resulting in serious drug overdoses and in some cases death,” says Commissioner E. Douglas Varney. “Individuals are putting themselves and those they care for at risk for a cheap high. If you or someone you care for is caught up in this spiral of addiction, please reach out for help from one of the many treatment centers across the state. To find substance use treatment resources across the state, call the Tennessee REDLINE anytime at 1-800-889-9789.” 

Cempa Community Care To Offer Free Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing In Chattanooga And East Ridge Aug. 4-5

PODCAST: Clint Powell Interviews Judy Herman - Counselor, Speaker And Author

Morning Pointe Partners With Soundcorps On Outdoor Performance Series At Local Communities


Cempa Community Care will offer free drive-thru COVID-19 Testing in Chattanooga and East Ridge this week. Chattanooga testing will be held at Redemption to the Nations Church, 1908 Bailey ... (click for more)

Clint Powell interviewed Judy Herman. An advocate for authentic humanity, Ms. Herman is a counselor, speaker and author of "Beyond Messy Relationships.” Supporting “people-helping professionals”, ... (click for more)

Morning Pointe Senior Living and SoundCorps have joined forces to bring local Sidewalk Stages street performers to three Morning Pointe assisted living and memory care communities. Up to nine ... (click for more)



Living Well

Cempa Community Care To Offer Free Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing In Chattanooga And East Ridge Aug. 4-5

Cempa Community Care will offer free drive-thru COVID-19 Testing in Chattanooga and East Ridge this week. Chattanooga testing will be held at Redemption to the Nations Church, 1908 Bailey Ave. in Chattanooga on Tuesday from 3-6 p.m. East Ridge testing will be held at Brainerd Baptist Church – East Ridge Campus, 1203 Blocker Lane in Chattanooga, on Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. ... (click for more)

PODCAST: Clint Powell Interviews Judy Herman - Counselor, Speaker And Author

Clint Powell interviewed Judy Herman. An advocate for authentic humanity, Ms. Herman is a counselor, speaker and author of "Beyond Messy Relationships.” Supporting “people-helping professionals”, she has online groups, courses, and consulting for self-care for vibrant service. She discusses being authentic, her writing process and journey, and her own professional and personal ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Has Just 44 New Coronavirus Cases, But Highest Number Yet In Intensive Care; Tennessee Has 19 More Deaths

Hamilton County had just 44 new coronavirus cases on Monday, but had the highest number of COVID patients yet in Intensive Care - 35. The cases were down from Sunday's 62 new cases after recent numbers reached up to 175 in a day. Total cases now are 5,617. There were 85 COVID patients hospitalized as well as nine more suspected cases. Deaths remain at 48. The number ... (click for more)

President Trump Fires 2 TVA Board Members Over Outsourcing IT Jobs; Says TVA CEO Way Overpaid

President Donald Trump said Monday he was firing the chairman of the TVA board and a second board member for outsourcing TVA IT jobs overseas. Over 60 TVA's U.S. workers recently were laid off, including some in Chattanooga. James "Skip" Thompson of Decatur, Ala., is the current chairman. President Trump also said that TVA's Jeff Lyash is way overpaid, saying he gets around ... (click for more)

Opinion

Mark Kimsey Was The Real Deal And Larger Than Life

Rest In Peace to one of the most honorable, intelligent and entertaining human beings I have ever met in my entire life. Mark Kimsey, you were an eloquent and extremely talented writer and the epitome of what an American Law Enforcement Officer should be - courageous, scholarly, empathetic, proficient and selfless. Words can not begin to express how much you are respected ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: This Morning’s Prayer

The story I am told reveals that sometime this Friday afternoon a long caravan of over-the road buses will arrive Chattanooga as a stop of some modern-day Freedom Riders, this in remembrance of those titanic human beings who walked with Dr. Martin Luther King in his most victorious moment to quell racism in the South. Sponsored by a group known as “Atlanta Uprising” and sanctioned ... (click for more)