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Controlled drugs

Pharmacies warned of fake tablets containing fentanyl

Counterfeit tablets that contain the opioid fentanyl have been found in the UK for the first time.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed on 3 January 2019 that its officers had seized items “believed to be unlawful drugs” from a property in Hounslow, London. An analysis of the drugs confirmed that they contained fentanyl. Legitimate Percocet (Endo International, Dublin) tablets contain a combination of oxycodone and paracetamol.

In a statement, Public Health England (PHE) said that it had alerted all directors of public health in the capital about the seizure and was working with the police and local authorities.

It said: “Fentanyl is a strong opioid about 50 times more potent than heroin. There is no safe way to use illicit fentanyl, which has been responsible for thousands of drug-related deaths in North America. PHE is working with a range of local, national and international partners to prevent the circulation of fentanyl as far as possible.”

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has written to pharmacy superintendents to alert them of the discovery, noting that Percocet is not licensed in the UK.

“Although it is more likely that fake Percocet tablets will be available outside of the reputable medicines supply chain, I would advise that all pharmacy teams be made aware of this new threat,” Leyla Hannbeck, director of pharmacy for the NPA, said in the letter.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20205956

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