Iowans are being warned about the risks of counterfeit prescription drugs.

U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan says users are exposing themselves to fentanyl and carfentanil when they think they’re taking oxycodone. He says the lookalike pills can be deadly.

“These are not real oxycodone pills, although you can’t tell from looking at them,” Deegan said. “In fact, these pills contain synthetic opioids that are many times more lethal than oxycodone or even street heroin.” According to Deegan, drug dealers are increasingly making pills with synthetic opioids.

“We’ve had far too many cases where someone has taken a drug, literally the first time, and has died because of it,” Deegan said. “And a lot of it comes down to the fact that you simply don’t know what is in that drug.” According to 2017 data from the federal government, the majority of people misusing prescription drugs did it to relieve pain, not to get high.

(Thanks to Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)