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'He was deceived to death': Iowa sees influx of pills laced with fentanyl

The Iowa Department of Public Safety says the number of counterfeit prescriptions laced with fentanyl has quadrupled already in 2022.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Deric and Kathy Kidd said their son's life was cut short due to a pill he took before bed last July. 

"Our son was taken from us on July 30 2021," Deric said. "De did not overdose, he did not want to leave this world."

Deric said his 17-year-old son, Sebastian, took what he thought was half of a Percocet before bed. The teenager never woke up. 

"You don't overdose overdose on one Percocet or Xanax," Deric said. "He was deceived to death by whoever sold him that counterfeit pill. He was poisoned for lack of a better term."

"Their little boy was taken from them," said Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner, Steve Bayens. "They're right. He didn't overdose, he wasn't an addict. He was killed. He was killed by drug traffickers."

Bayens believes tragedies like what the Kidd's endured will likely only continue, if the state can't stop the influx of fentanyl throughout the state. He said last year, the criminal lab analyzed more than 17,000 pills laced with fentanyl, disguised as prescription drugs. 

"In the first six months of 2022 that number has quadrupled," Bayens said. "70,556 fentanyl pills. 70,000 described as prescription drugs."

"Last year, illicit fentanyl was implicated in 83% of all Iowa opioid related overdose deaths, compared to 31% just five years ago," said Governor Kim Reynolds. 

Reynolds says U.S. DEA data points to this illicit fentanyl primarily being manufactured in China and Mexico and smuggled into the US over the Mexico border.

"I call upon the President to secure our southern border and to stop the influx of illegal drugs from flowing into our country," Reynolds said. "The surge of illegal drug trafficking at our nation's southern border since policy changes were enacted by the Biden administration 18 months ago, is undeniably fueling the fentanyl crisis. And it's resulting in the opioid overdose epidemic."

She said the fight against this crisis will require all Iowans remaining vigilant. 

"So it's my hope that by raising awareness, we'll see a decrease in the overall deaths," Reynolds said. "If the information we shared today scares you, it should."

If you need help with substance abuse, mental health, or thoughts of suicide, call 855-581-8111, text 855-895-8398, or head to yourlifeiowa.org.

Iowa DPS said if you come across suspicious medications, do not flush it down the toilet. They say that will contaminate the water. Instead, reach out to authorities who will either safely dispose of it, or anayalyze it to hopefully trace it back to its original source. 

The Office on Drug Control says you should only trust pills prescribed by your doctor, and dispensed from a pharmacy. Old medications should be safely disposed of in drug take-back boxes. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health and Human Services will start rolling out a new multimedia campaign aimed at young people, to spread awareness about the dangers of counterfeit drugs and fentanyl. 

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