Tosh Ackerman took part of what he thought was a Xanax pill to help him sleep one night three years ago. His girlfriend found the 29-year-old dead the next day.
The Xanax he obtained from an acquaintance was counterfeit, says his mother, Carrie Luther, who lives in Mount Hermon, Calif. Toxicology reports found it contained a fatal dose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid often produced illicitly for the black market.
“It looked like Xanax to the untrained eye,” says Ms. Luther, who now regularly speaks about the dangers of counterfeit drugs.
The issue of counterfeit prescription medications like Xanax is a growing problem, attracting the attention of law enforcement organizations and pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer , which manufactures Xanax.
In June the U.S. Food and Drug Administration convened a meeting around the problem of illegal opioids sold online and through social media.