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Experts Warn Public About the Dangers of Fake Pills in the Midst of the Current Adderall Shortage

Local prevention organizations remind the public they are at risk of being exposed to fentanyl or other dangerous substances if they get pills anywhere besides a licensed pharmacy.


On November 1, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a shortage of mixed amphetamine salts, known by the brand name Adderall, which is a prescription drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. This shortage has extended into this year, and continues to impact many people in our state and across the nation. In 2023, there have been 446,660 prescriptions written for amphetamine salts in Connecticut, according to data from the Connecticut Prescription Monitoring & Reporting System (CPMRS). The shortage is very concerning because some people may put themselves in danger by turning to social media, the dark web or the street to find the medication if they can’t get it from their pharmacy.


“If you buy or acquire a prescription pill anywhere other than a pharmacy, it is most likely fake,” said Robert Lawlor, a Connecticut Drug Intelligence Officer, New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program. “Adderall is a drug that we often see fake versions of in the United States and it’s being laced with fentanyl and methamphetamine. You really don’t know what you’re getting and it may be lethal.”


If a fake pill contains fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin, one pill can be deadly. Fake pills are coming into the country at alarming rates. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 287 million lethal doses of fentanyl have been taken off the streets in the U.S. in 2023 so far. The seizures have yielded over 62.4 million fentanyl pills and 9,700 pounds of fentanyl powder.


You Think You Know,” a statewide awareness campaign that was created to educate teens, young adults and their caregivers, about the dangers of fake prescription drugs continues to track the increasing risks.


“If you have a teen or young adult, it’s critical to talk with them about the dangers of getting medication anywhere besides a licensed pharmacy,” said Giovanna Mozzo, Director of The Hub, a partner organization for the campaign. “As part of our campaign, we have created tip sheets to give you the facts and help guide discussions. These can be found at YouThinkYouKnowCT.org/resources.”


If you are unable to get your prescription medication, talk with your prescriber or pharmacist to find alternatives. It is important to note, getting medicine from friends isn’t a safer option because there is no way to know where the friend got it from. Even if a pill isn’t fake, the dose is only appropriate for the person it’s prescribed for and can be dangerous for others.



Wondering if an online pharmacy is legitimate? You can verify whether an online retailer is authentic or not by using National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's safe search tool. Visit this page to learn more.



This post was originally published November 2022, and most recently updated as of October 2023.

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