A Los Angeles Times investigative piece found that pharmacies across various northwestern cities in Mexico are selling counterfeit, drug-laced prescription pills and selling them as legitimate pharmaceuticals. Oxycodone pills & Adderall pills for example, both tested positive for fentanyl & methamphetamine respectively. UCLA researchers & CBAM collaborators, Drs. Chelsea Shover & David Goodman-Meza were quoted in the article as their research uncovered similar results. Dr. Shover stressed that the presence of counterfeit products containing fentanyl will result in more overdose deaths as consumers will unknowingly buy stronger doses than what is expected. It is unknown how these illegal drugs are making their way into pharmacies or how many people have died. The cause of death  is only noted on a death certificate if a physician is involved and so the data on this is incomplete. Regardless, findings from both of these articles highlight a serious public health risk and show how the rise of fentanyl based counterfeit opioids is a key driver of the on-going opioid crisis.

To read the LA Times article in its entirety, click here.

UCLA lead piece: Fentanyl, Heroin, and Methamphetamine-Based Counterfeit Pills Sold at Tourist-Oriented Pharmacies in Mexico: An Ethnographic and Drug Checking Study


CBAM is a multidisciplinary center that seeks to advance the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses, especially in communities with health disparities. As part of the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, CBAM works at the intersection of academia and community with a focus on treating addictions and preventing the spread of HIV.

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