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Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration

Counterfeit Pills Fact Sheet

DEA lab testing reveals that four out of every ten pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose.  

Counterfeit pills often contain fentanyl and are more lethal than ever before.  DEA officials report a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least 2 mg of fentanyl, which is ocnsidered a deadly dose.  Drug traffickers are using fake pills to exploit the opioid crisis and prescription drug misuse.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States in the most recent 12-month reporting period, the most ever recorded. Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid most commonly found in counterfeit pills, is the primary driver in this alarming increase in overdose deaths.

Criminal drug networks are flooding the U.S. with deadly fake pills.

  • Crimminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills and falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills to deceive the American public.  
  • Counterfeit pills are easy to purchase, widely available, often contain fentanyl or methamphetamine, and can be deadly. 
  • Fake prescription pills are easily accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms, making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including minors.  
  • Many counterfiet pills ar emade to look like prescription opioids such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and alprazolam (Xanax); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall). 

Counterfeit pills are widely available across every state in the Country.  DEA and its law enforcement partners are seizing deadly fake pills at record rates. 

  • Counterfeit pills have been identified in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Drug trafficking is also inextricably linked with violence.
  • DEA has opened 912 investigations with a nexus to violent crime so far this year, and wtih our partners, seized mroe than 8,700 guns connected to crimes. 

So far this year, DEA has seized 20,000,000 fake pills often laced with fentanyl (more than the last 2 years combined)

The only safe medications are ones that come from licensed and accredited medial professionals.  DEA warns that pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous, and potentially lethal. 

For more information about counterfeit pills, go to 

Date as of December 2021

The Drug Enforcement Administration ensures the safety and health of the American public by fighting against violent criinal drug networds and foreign criminal drug networks and foreign cartels trafficking illicit drugs.  To accomplish that mission, the Drug Enforcement Administration employs approximately 10,000 men an dwomen throughout the world. Special Agents, deversion investigators, intelligence analysts, and chemists across 239 domestic offices in 23 U.S. divisions and 91 foreign offices in 68 countries.