May 17, 2023 - Health

Candy-colored fentanyl seized in Ohio

Side by side images of candy-colored fentanyl pills

Candy-colored fentanyl pills submitted for testing in Cuyahoga County on 4/15 (L) and seized by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation last week (R). Photos: Courtesy of the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner (L) and the Ohio Attorney General (R)

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) last week confiscated more than 1,000 candy-colored fentanyl pills in a Franklin County drug raid.

Why it matters: So-called "rainbow fentanyl" is designed to resemble candy to drive addiction in young people, according to Ohio attorney general Dave Yost and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Zoom in: Candy-colored pills have also been found in Cuyahoga County.

  • Local law enforcement submitted pills suspected to be fentanyl for testing on April 15.
  • Typically, fentanyl pills seized here are "various shades of blue or green," according to the medical examiner's office.

What they're saying: "Do not be fooled by appearances — rainbow fentanyl is death disguised as candy," Yost said in a press release.

  • "If you're taking a pill that wasn't prescribed by your doctor, you can't be certain of what you are consuming."

By the numbers: The medical examiner's monthly overdose report is not yet available for April, but through March, 130 people died from fentanyl overdoses in Cuyahoga County.

  • Overall drug overdoses for 2023 are on pace to be the highest of the 21st century, surpassing even 2017, when 727 people died from overdoses and carfentanil claimed 191 lives.

The bottom line: "Fentanyl is still killing hundreds of people year after year," Thomas Gilson, Cuyahoga County's medical examiner, tells Axios.

  • "Making it look like legitimate medication or candy are just despicable ploys by the cartels to hook more unsuspecting people."

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