TBI warns counterfeit pills have killed thousands in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Counterfeit pills have killed thousands of people in Tennessee this year.

Multiple state agencies issued a plea to stop buying those knock-off medications off the streets.

“I want to remind Tennesseans that one pill can kill,” said State Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey.

You usually hear Dr. Piercy talking about COVID-19 ravaging through the Volunteer State. Monday morning, she spoke on something else killing Tennesseans. Counterfeit pills.

“In 2020, we lost 3,030 Tennesseans to overdoses. That is an alarming 45% increase from 2019 to 2020. That even exceeds the national rate of 30% in the same time period,” said Piercey.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says this year alone they have confiscated 9 million counterfeit pills.

Most of which were found to be laced with fentanyl, a deadly drug.

The attention turns to stopping the sale of these counterfeit pills and helping those who continue to buy them.

“Stopping it starts by targeting demand, and that requires those who battle addiction or those who know someone who does.” TBI Director David Rausch said.

Health leaders did, however, praise the Regional Overdose Specialist Program.

It’s new and has helped thousands of Tennesseans.

“Since the program began in October of 2017, these individuals have distributed more than 232,000 units of naloxone and have saved more than 30,000 lives,” said Marie Williams, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

While the fight is far from over, these leaders hope their message will cause some to reach out for help.

This conference comes about a week after agents in southwest Tennessee seized more than 11 pounds of fentanyl hidden in a car battery.

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Agents say it was enough to kill more than two and a half million people.