TBI warns of dangers of "analog" drugs

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WATN) - Counterfeit pills are showing up in Memphis, creating more unpredictable and potentially more dangerous outcomes.

The TBI lab in Memphis has received dozens of samples of "analog drugs," drugs that have been altered at the chemical level.

"I can't overemphasize how deadly these analogs and opioid-fentanyl derivative products can be," said Micheal Jones, Public Information Officer with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Jones said super labs in China and Mexico are changing the chemical structure of known substances, creating dangerous results.

"They're not FDA approved, they're not tested in labs with high regulations and studies. You just don't know how it's going to interact in the body, from the person's reaction who overdosed, to even the use of Narcan," said Jones.

So far in 2017, TBI's Memphis lab has tested a total of 58 samples of counterfeit pills.

"If you are not getting your pharmaceutical directly from the pharmacy, it's not really a matter of 'if,' it's a matter of 'when' you're going to get one of these substances that aren't what they portray to be," said Jones. "My message to those out there struggling with this addiction, you know we're concerned about you. Right now, is the time to seek treatment, if there's ever been a time, because you do not know what you're getting. You cannot trust it."

The hybrid drugs also pose an issue for law enforcement, because the chemical structure of the substance has changed, it is not scheduled as an illegal narcotic.

It is tough to say they are illegal, and it makes hard for law enforcement to know what they're dealing with.

According to Jones, TBI is working to broaden the span of scheduling drugs to include these altered substances.

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