Prescription drugs laced with fentanyl in southeast Missouri

Fentanyl showing up in new forms in Heartland states

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Fentanyl is showing up in a new dangerous form.

According to an undercover officer with the SEMO Drug Task Force, law enforcement is finding more and more prescription drugs laced with fentanyl in southeast Missouri.

“If you buy a prescription pill on the street, you have no idea what you’re getting," said Mike Alford, an undercover officer with SEMO Drug Task Force. “Is it laced with fentanyl? Is it not? Is it really the pill you’re supposed to get? Did it come from a pharmacy initially, or did it come overseas?”

You can’t find out those answers by yourself, according to Alford.

“If you look at the pills, it looks like it’s marked correctly, and you can’t tell. The only way to tell is if you send it to the lab," he said.

Both Alford and a local pharmacist said it’s safest to get prescription pills from a pharmacy.

“We have to order through legitimate licensed wholesalers, who have to partner with legitimate licensed manufacturers, and when you go through that legal chain, there’s very little chance of it being a counterfeit or mixed with something else that’s terribly unsafe for you," said Stephen Byrd, a pharmacist at John’s Pharmacy in Cape Girardeau.

But Byrd said that’s not the case with prescription drugs bought outside of a pharmacy.

“When you go out and buy on the streets, you’re buying it illegally, from illegal sellers, from illegal providers. They don’t care about you. They just care about making money,” said Byrd.

That’s not the only problem. Alford said more people have easy access to the opioid blocking medication, Narcan.

“If they know somebody’s a heroin junkie, say a family member, they may have it at their house, just like an EpiPen," said Alford.

He said that’s the cause for some overdoses going unreported.

“The numbers are skewed in my opinion. There’s more use out there than being reported and more overdoses than being reported," said Alford.

According to Alford, people prescribed drugs from doctors are less likely to overdose with those prescribed drugs, if taking to proper dosage. But Byrd recommends always asking your pharmacist questions about your prescription.

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