DEA seized enough fentanyl in 2022 to kill everyone in the U.S.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced Tuesday that it seized over 379 million doses of potentially deadly fentanyl in 2022, including more than 50.6 million fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder.
Why it matters: Fentanyl, a highly addictive man-made opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin, is considered the deadliest drug threat in the U.S. — and a growing threat to teenagers.
- The DEA has documented a sharp nationwide increase in the lethality of fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills in particular.
- "Just two milligrams of fentanyl, the small amount that fits on the tip of a pencil, is considered a potentially deadly dose," the agency noted in a press release.
Details: The trafficked fentanyl is primarily mass produced at secret factories in Mexico with chemicals largely sourced from China, according to the DEA.
- The pills are often "made to look identical to real prescription medications — including OxyContin®, Percocet®, and Xanax® — but only contain filler and fentanyl," the DEA said.
- Given their prevalence online, the DEA warned that people should only use medication directly prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.
What they're saying: Administrator Anne Milgram said the DEA's 2022 seizures are "enough deadly doses of fentanyl to kill every American."
- "DEA’s top operational priority is to defeat the two Mexican drug cartels — the Sinaloa and Jalisco (CJNG) Cartels — that are primarily responsible for the fentanyl that is killing Americans today," Milgram said in a statement.
The big picture: Illegal fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for people in the U.S. ages 18 to 49, a Washington Post investigation found.
- The epidemic poses a growing threat to teens, who officials say may more frequently encounter the drug disguised in unexpected forms.