District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced today the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office is taking efforts to address an epidemic increase in fentanyl related deaths, based in large part on counterfeit prescription pills which contain fentanyl.

The national fentanyl epidemic has hit the Sacramento community, and has increased during the pandemic.  From January 2020 to July 21, 2021, there have been 140 fentanyl related deaths in Sacramento County.  People in Sacramento are now dying from fentanyl overdoses at virtually identical rates to homicides.  These tragic deaths span all age groups from young kids to seniors.

The District Attorney’s Crime Lab, which tests all narcotics seized by local law enforcement agencies, found that 92% of oxycodone pills on the street are counterfeit.  Of those pills, 75% are straight fentanyl.  Counterfeit pills are virtually impossible to distinguish from a prescription pill. The Crime Lab is discovering an alarming rate of not only counterfeit oxycodone, but also counterfeit OxyContin, Percocet, Xanax and Adderall.

DA Schubert is leading the effort to respond to the fentanyl epidemic with an extensive public outreach campaign.

The main focus of the response will be countywide Public Service Announcements (PSAs) highlighting the theme of “1 Pill Can Kill.” Several of the fentanyl related deaths involve teens and young adults targeted on social media who ingested a pill, or on occasion half a pill.   Key messages of the PSAs include: 1) If you didn’t get it from a pharmacy – it’s fake; 2) A very small amount of fentanyl is deadly – one pill can kill; and 3) Fake pills are being pushed through social media.

DA Schubert has requested funding from the County Board of Supervisors as part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act to pay for guaranteed, premier PSA placements across social media, TV/Radio, billboards, public transit and print publications among other advertising platforms.

Until funding is secured, the DA’s Office will roll out the PSAs on the office social media sites and donated advertisement platforms.  Clear Channel Outdoors supports the awareness campaign and will donate digital billboard space when available throughout the county. There are additional opportunities for free PSA placements on social media.

The Sacramento County Office of Education and local school superintendents support the fentanyl awareness efforts and will distribute PSA materials to students, administrators, parents/guardians as well as student and parent groups.  Other partnerships are being formed across the medical industry.

“I was alarmed as we watched the Coroner Office’s statistics on fentanyl related deaths rise and the corresponding rise in counterfeit pills containing fentanyl discovered at our Crime Lab,” said DA Anne Marie Schubert.  “An epidemic of this magnitude requires a multi-disciplinary response involving schools, public health, community-based organizations, healthcare, the faith-based community and law enforcement. The most powerful tool we have is information, so our efforts are focused on awareness and prevention efforts to save lives.”

A website 1PillCanKillSac.com was created for information and resources to get help.

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