IA: Seizures of a deadly drug are on the rise in rural Iowa

Authorities in central Iowa are seeing an upturn in the number of seizures of a drug so dangerous, even touching the tablets could be lethal.

Captain Nick Lennie, chief deputy of the Story County Sheriff’s Office, says the so-called M-30 pills are stamped with an “M” on one side and a “30” on the other. It’s very difficult to tell whether they’re counterfeit or real prescription medications, and he says swallowing one could quickly result in an overdose if they’re laced with fentanyl or methamphetamine.

“Primarily, these pills come in a blue or a white form,” Lennie says. “The authentic pill typically is a blue form, it’s an oxycodone pill, but the trend we’re seeing recently is that these pills are also being made in various types of colors, which seems to attract a younger audience.”

That tiny amount of fentanyl powder is enough to kill. (DEA photo)

Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin, so Lennie says even handling the pills could be very risky. A deadly dose of fentanyl is about the size of a few grains of salt, he says, and it continues to be one of the primary sources of overdose deaths from opioids. Lennie says they’re seeing M-30 more often, even in rural Iowa.

“Since January 1st of this year, we have seen a 6% increase just from last year,” Lennie says. “That equates to over 3,000 pills seized and we’ve had five overdoses in the central Iowa area that we work.”

The counterfeit M-30 pills are being manufactured in places like China, India and Mexico and Lennie says they’re often being distributed in the U.S. through social media sites, typically to buyers in their teens and 20s.

“We’d advise parents especially with their minor children to keep a close eye and track the media sites they’re on,” Lennie says. “Be aware of the media sites they’re visiting, and also just be open with their children and talk to them about the dangers.”

Following up on the campaign “One Pill Can Kill,” Sergeant Nick Hochberger, also at the Story County Sheriff’s Office, says if there are unused medications in your household, you can dispose of them easily and anonymously.

“Most local law enforcement agencies have a drug dropbox where people can take drugs or items, medications that they haven’t taken, or maybe a loved one hasn’t taken, or someone’s passed away,” Hochberger says. “They can drop those in those local law enforcement drug drop boxes.”

Businesses, organizations and schools can get the overdose reversal drug, Naloxone, for free, through this website, while individuals can get Naloxone through many local pharmacies.

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