© 2023 Maine Public | Registered 501(c)(3) EIN: 22-3171529
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Scroll down to see all available streams.

Portland police warn residents to watch for counterfeit pills

Keith Srakocic

Portland police are warning residents to watch for counterfeit pills on the secondary market after seizing more than 600 pills last week.

A counterfeit pill may appear to be oxycodone or another medication, based on the appearance. But Lt. Kevin Cashman of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency says often it is fentanyl or methamphetamine pressed into a pill meant to look like a certain prescription.

He says that in recent years counterfeit pills have become more common, and they are almost always contaminated with other drugs like fentanyl.

"It's come to the point where we assume they're counterfeit and we test them as if they are counterfeit," Cashman said. "It is very, very rare that we come across a large quantity of authentic pills."

Cashman says residents shouldn't take pills unless they have been prescribed by a doctor and filled by a pharmacy.

"They seemingly think they're taking an oxycodone for a minor pain or ache when in reality they are consuming fentanyl and more likely than not they will have some type of overdose, whether it's fatal or they are able to recover from it," he said.

There is no way to predict how much fentanyl is in a counterfeit pill, Cashman says. Because of that, even taking a small number of pills could cause a person to overdose.

The warning comes after Portland police seized a large number of pills last week.

Last Monday, they arrested 22-year-old Justin Williams of Saco, for possession of illegal narcotics and seized 628 pills which were believed to be Oxycodone, Xanax and Adderall.

But further testing found the pills were counterfeit and many tested positive for fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.