The opioid epidemic in Maryland and skyrocketing fatal overdoses often are marked by prescription painkillers, heroin, fentanyl or carfentanil, with the synthetic drugs raising the potency and the stakes exponentially.
Now, a potentially deadly combination, first spotted a year ago, has turned up again.
Elena Russo is a spokeswoman with the Maryland State Police.
"Our chemical forensic analyst are looking at any prescription pills that come off of the streets and recently there have been three cases that came into the lab showing that fentanyl was one of the substances involved in these pills,” said Russo, “So what we're seeing is these prescription pills being sold on the street laced with this toxic substance, fentanyl, which is fatal."
Oxycodone pills cut with fentanyl---a substance 50 times stronger than heroin.
It is a dangerous combination, which unsuspecting pain killer users could ingest unaware of the risk.
"If Oxycodone is something that your doctor or pharmacy prescribes, that's where you should be getting it. Not on the street, because you don't know what you're getting on the street," said Russo.
State police say the counterfeit or contaminated pills discovered thus far came from Anne Arundel, Cecil and Queen Anne's counties, but none have been tied to any fatal overdoses at this point.