On National Fentanyl Awareness Day, AG Moody warns public about deadly opioid crisis

(The Center Square) – Tuesday is the first ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody took a moment to sound the alarm, warning Americans: “one pill can kill.”

“The shocking increase in the number of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl should concern everyone, especially President [Joe] Biden, who continues to ignore federal immigration laws – paving the way for these dangerous drugs to flood into our country,” Moody said. “Nobody should use illicit drugs. Not only are they illegal, but they can be lethal. On this first-ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day, I am demanding that Biden take action and reminding Floridians that just one laced pill can kill.”

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s 50 to 100 times more deadly than morphine, is the leading cause of death for adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 45. More people in this age group are dying from fentanyl than from suicide, vehicle accidents, gun violence and the coronavirus, national data show.

Last year, the U.S. “suffered more fentanyl-related deaths than gun-related and auto-related deaths combined,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator Anne Milgram said.

Roughly two milligrams of fentanyl, about the weight of a mosquito, is enough to kill a full-grown adult.

According to a recent report published by the National Institutes for Health, law enforcement seizures of pills laced with fentanyl increased dramatically between January 2018 and December 2021, increasing nearly 50-fold from the first quarter of 2018 to the last quarter of 2021. The proportion of pills to total seizures also more than doubled, with pills representing over a quarter of illicit fentanyl seizures by the end of 2021, the report found.

“For the first time we can see this rapid rise in pills adulterated with fentanyl, which raises red flags for increasing risk of harm in a population that is possibly less experienced with opioids,” Dr. Joseph Palamar, NYU Grossman School of Medicine associate professor and co-investigator of the NIH report, said.

“We absolutely need more harm reduction strategies, such as naloxone distribution and fentanyl test strips, as well as widespread education about the risk of pills that are not coming from a pharmacy,” he added. “The immediate message here is that pills illegally obtained can contain fentanyl.”

According to the latest available drug seizure data published by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, since Biden took office, “enough fentanyl has been seized at the U.S. southwest border to kill every man, woman and child in the U.S. seven times over,” Moody said.

Moody and multiple other attorneys general have sued over Biden administration immigration policies, demanding that the president and his administratiom follow the laws established by Congress. Not doing so has exacerbated the opioid crisis, they argue, in addition to creating a host of other problems. They’ve also called for the immediate resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to take a tougher approach toward China and Mexico for their direct role in flooding the U.S. with fentanyl.

Mexico is the top distributor of fentanyl into the U.S., primarily brought in through the southern border by transnational criminal cartels and gangs, enabled through Biden’s open border policies, law enforcement officials say.

Fentanyl is less expensive to produce and easier to transport, doesn’t require farms or large facilities, and can be compounded in people’s homes and garages. Once the products are finished, cartel operatives and illegal immigrants can easily carry them in their backpacks across the border.

Fentanyl precursors are often first shipped from China to Mexican ports. Cartel employees then make fake opioid pills or lace other narcotics with them. Fake pills look like authentic prescription pills such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin, which are prescribed to manage pain, are often misused and can be highly addictive.

It's not just pills that are laced with fentanyl, but also heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or benzodiazepines that “may actually be fentanyl” or have been “adulterated or contaminated with fentanyl, NIH warns.

Last October, outgoing DEA El Paso, Texas, Division Chief Kyle Williamson said the cartel-driven opioid crisis in the U.S. was the worst it’s ever been since he began working for the agency in 1991. His message came after the DEA issued its first urgent public safety alert in six years, warning about the alarming increase of available fake prescription pills containing lethal doses of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

The DEA has published a range of resources about illicit drugs, including a guide to help parents discuss how dangerous they are with their children.

Moody also created DoseOfRealityFL.com, which includes preventative information about opioid abuse and drug addiction.

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