Washington – Deaths from overdoses with adulterated drugs in the U.S. have doubled between 2019 and 2021, and the use of these illegal pills is more common among young people and Hispanics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The percentage of overdose deaths with evidence of adulterated pills increased from 2% between July and September 2019 to 4.7% between October to December 2021, Julie O’Donnell, the lead author of a report released by the CDC on Thursday.

“Deaths with evidence of adulterated pill were considerably younger, more often Hispanic, particularly with evidence of adulterated oxycodone,” O’Donnell specified

Illegally manufactured fentanyls were the only drug involved in 42.4% of deaths with evidence of adulterated pill use and 19.5% of deaths without such evidence.

The report is supported by CDC data showing that 106,293 overdose deaths occurred in the 30 jurisdictions included in the study in the period from July 2019 to December 2021.

In 2021 there were a total of 54,768 overdose deaths, and in 2,437 of those there was evidence that the pills were not produced by pharmaceutical companies and look similar to legitimate drugs such as oxycodone or alprazolam.

In 454 of the 5,347 Latino overdose deaths, there was evidence of the use of illegally manufactured pills, or 18.7%, said O’Donnell, of the Division of Overdose Prevention at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The increase in overdose deaths with evidence of adulterated compounds has not been even across the country, and where it has grown the most is in the West going from 5% in 2019 to nearly 15% in 2021.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has indicated that these drugs are marketed especially to young people, with the use of social media and online “chats” showing where they are being sold to young people, O’Donnell said.

“There is evidence that these compounds are cheaper. It’s a combination of marketing, availability and the cheapness of the drugs,” he added.

O’Donnell emphasized the importance of public education campaigns in which the availability of materials translated into Spanish should be emphasized.

Categorized in: