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Study finds more than 115 million fentanyl pills seized by LE in 2023

The synthetic opioid is about 50 times more potent than heroin, and an amount as small as two milligrams can be a lethal dose

Number of Pills Containing Fentanyl Seized by Law Enforcement in the United States, 2017-2023

NIDA

By Joanna Putman
Police1

WASHINGTON — A study has shown a significant increase in law enforcement seizures of illicit fentanyl, especially in pill form, according to a news release from the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The study, supported by the National Institute of Health, showed that the number of fentanyl-containing pills seized soared from 49,657 in 2017 to 115,562,603 in 2023, according to the report.

“Fentanyl has continued to infiltrate the drug supply in communities across the United States and it is a very dangerous time to use drugs, even just occasionally,” stated NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “Illicit pills are made to look identical to real prescription pills, but can actually contain fentanyl.”

The Western U.S. has become a hotspot for fentanyl seizures, with a significant portion of the fentanyl captured being in pill form, according to the report. In 2022, over 107,000 people died from drug overdoses, 75% of which involved an opioid like fentanyl.

“Illicit fentanyl is highly potent, cheaply made, and easily transported, making it extremely profitable,” according to the report. The synthetic opioid is about 50 times more potent than heroin, and an amount as small as two milligrams can be a lethal dose.

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