Many of the people becoming sick and dying are teenagers who try just one pillBy Ross Guidotti

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Substance abuse counselors and law enforcement said they are seeing an alarming number of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in the area.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, more people are dying from overdosing by taking counterfeit pharmaceuticals than anything else.

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The DEA said the federal government seized 9.5 million counterfeit drugs in the last year, twice as much as the last two years combined.

The DEA said at least 20 percent of these bogus drugs contain potentially deadly levels of methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl. Additional ingredients include paint thinner, household cleaning products and other potentially deadly chemicals.

The counterfeit drugs are coming from Mexico, with the ingredients being sent there from China, and the finished products are sent across the United States.

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Tim Phillips of the Westmoreland County Drug and Alcohol Task Force said western Pennsylvania has been awash with these fake drugs for the last few years. Most of the drugs being copied are painkillers like Oxycodone and anti-anxiety or psychotropic drugs like Xanax and Adderall.

Federal officials discovered other drugs, including Viagra and Tamiflu, are being copied and used by unsuspecting customers. The drugs are easily accessible over the internet via the dark web and shipping via the mail.

Phillips told KDKA these illegal drugs have already killed multiple people in western Pennsylvania. Phillips said the people making these drugs have refined their manufacturing process, making it nearly impossible, in some cases, to tell the difference between legitimate pharmaceuticals and counterfeit ones.

According to Phillips, many of the people becoming sick and dying are teenagers who try just one pill, but it’s enough to kill.

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If you want more information on counterfeit pharmaceuticals or if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, click here or here or here for more resources.