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STATE WIDE--You’ve probably heard about counterfeit medicine and fake pills being a problem. Indiana is also in a tough spot with being being addicted to opioids. If you put the two together, you get an even bigger problem, that could also be fatal.

Shabbir Safdar, executive director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, says once Indiana and other states, and the federal government realized how addictive opioids like oxycontin, morphine and hydrocodone are, they cracked down on prescriptions.

“As they became less available the Mexican cartels and other organized crime moved into that market, making fake pills with fentanyl,” he said. “That is now what you get. If you get a pill from anywhere except the pharmacy and it’s a painkiller, it’s pretty much a fake pill made with fentanyl nowadays.”

LISTEN: Shabbir Safdar talks fake pills and the danger of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid, far more powerful than morphine. It has been the catalyst for thousands of overdose deaths, many in Indiana.

“It’s very compact. A tiny amount is needed per pill. So much so that a kilo of fentanyl which may cost you $5,000 on the black market can be turned into $20 million of fake pills.”

With the profit margin so high, organized crime and other people who want a quick profit have gotten into the smuggling trade, making the problem of opioids, addiction and the availability of illicit drugs worse.

“So that’s the problem in Indiana. That problem is not unique to Indiana. But, it is here,” he said.

Safdar said it’s also not unusual to find smugglers bringing their product from the southern border this far north.

“They smuggle them into the U.S. through all sorts of methods: people carrying them across the border, in trucks that are moving freight, hidden inside objects,” said Safdar. “The number of photos of fake burritos filled with pills that I’ve seen captured by CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) is at this point, almost a joke it happens so often.”

Safdar said that counterfeiters are also faking Aderol, blood thinners and other medicines, filling those pills with either fentanyl or meth.

He said to combat the problem, law enforcement must always have the tools they need to catch smugglers.

Safdar said Congress can also help by not falling for what he says is a scam.

“There are proposals floating around Congress to bring some of these same counterfeiters that sold us fake masks pretending to be from friendly countries into our drug supply, pretending to be Canadian and we need to not fall for that,” he said.

Safdar said that if cost issues are going to be addressed, they should be addressed with “players here in the market”.