AG Landry: It only takes one… There is no second chance

The start of a new school year brings many emotions to parents including excitement and optimism. We hope for new growth and educational achievement. This year, no doubt, some may be experiencing anxiety about the pandemic or fear of the unknown.

As colleges across Louisiana begin welcoming students back, parents should also be aware of a hidden danger lingering on campus – counterfeit drugs.

While most recognize that college can be a delicate balance between studying and having fun, many do not know that trying to juggle these often-conflicting priorities has led to campuses becoming a hotbed for the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs.

Whether students are taking pills to study, to party, or to handle the stress of balancing their busy schedules – too many trust their peers to supply them with medicine they believe is harmless. Ask nearly any student and he or she will tell you these drugs are often discussed and promoted on the Internet.

While your children may believe they are getting medicine to help them calm down or focus, they really are just playing a high stakes game of Russian Roulette.

Across our Nation, and even right here in our State, more and more dangerous counterfeit drugs are being produced and distributed. Creating these counterfeit drugs is all too easy for those looking to make a perilous, quick buck. A couple clicks online can get all the supplies needed – a pill press, molds, and filler materials.

Many of these counterfeit drugs are laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Dealers often chose to mix their drugs with fentanyl in order to cut costs, but doses as small as 2 milligrams – about the size of the year inscribed on a penny – can be fatal to most people. Other dealers will mix in baby powder, meat tenderizer, or even cleaning supplies – all of which can have dangerous and even fatal results for the person who ends up taking the pill.

Fraudulent online “pharmacies” are another way your children may be sold counterfeit drugs. These online pill mills may look reputable and safe, but studies show that as many as 50% of drugs available online are counterfeits. Buying medicine from one of these sham pharmacies can be dangerous at best and deadly at worst.

This hidden danger can affect anyone, even your children’s favorite musicians and athletes. Rapper Mac Miller and professional baseball player Tyler Skaggs recently died from counterfeit-related overdoses, and pop star Demi Lovato barely survived an overdose after reportedly taking fentanyl-laced drugs.

In our State, the lives of precious young people have likewise been tragically snuffed out due to counterfeit drugs – leaving countless family members, friends, and classmates grieving.

So, how can you tell the difference between a legitimate prescription pill and a dangerous counterfeit? You can’t. Oftentimes, even trained pharmacists and chemists are unable to do so without testing. This is something we cannot expect our children to do.

Therefore, we must talk to our children about the dangers of counterfeit drugs. Remind them that prescription medicine should only be used under a doctor’s care, with a doctor’s prescription, and filled by a legitimate pharmacy. If you need more information to help with this important conversation, visit www.EndTheEpidemicLA.org.

Too many of our young people have died from taking a counterfeit pill purchased online. It only takes one… there is no second chance!

Jeff Landry is Louisiana Attorney General.