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Posted on: March 2, 2021

City Issues Public Health Alert on Pain Pills Possibly Laced with Fentanyl


The Portland Police Department is investigating a fatal overdose that may be connected to counterfeit prescription pain pills that have been found to contain fentanyl. On February 28, 2021, officers responded to a call at Maine Medical Center where medical staff found an unconscious woman who was unresponsive in a vehicle outside. Witnesses who were with the woman reported her taking a “blue pill” before becoming unresponsive. She was later pronounced dead after medical staff were unable to revive her. Her cause of death is being investigated by the medical examiner. 

In the past month, investigators have seen an increase in what appear to be prescription medications, but are actually counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl. Blue pills were recently found by investigators that looked like 30 milligram Oxycodone tablets (pictured below) that also tested positive for fentanyl. Health experts are concerned because those using pills typically would not carry an anti-opioid antidote like naloxone (Narcan).

pillPills 2

The Department is cautioning the public to be aware of these counterfeit pills, to exercise caution and to consider submitting any suspicious drugs for testing. Fliers are being posted around the Portland area noting that fake oxycodone hydrochloride tablets may have a link to recent overdoses.

If you or someone you know is using opioids, please familiarize yourself with the signs of an opioid-related overdose. Signs include unresponsiveness, blue lips or fingernails, slow or no heartbeat, slow or no breathing, pale or clammy skin and pinpoint pupils. If you suspect an overdose, please call 911 immediately.

Naloxone (Narcan) is available at the pharmacy without a prescription. Additionally, the Portland Public Health Division offers no-cost Narcan as well as Overdose Recognition & Response training. If additional assistance is needed, the India Street Public Health Center is open to walk-ins for Narcan and other help through the Needle Exchange Program Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The Public can call (207) 874-8446 for further assistance. 

To provide information anonymously, community members may contact us by text, internet, or phone.
Anonymous phone tips can be left on the Department’s Crime Tip line: 207-874-8584.
Mobile phone users can text the keyword “PPDME” plus their message to 847411 (TIP411).

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