Dangers of Using Other People’s Prescriptions

Don’t take other people’s pills. It seems like common sense advice. However, many Americans believe it’s okay to take medication that was not prescribed specifically for them.1 But it isn’t just the medicine itself that can be risky. The source could be just as dangerous.2 Read on to learn more about the dangers of using other people’s prescription pills and why you should not take any drugs which aren’t prescribed by your doctor.

One fake pill can kill

The US Drug Enforcement Administration and its law enforcement partners have seized a record 72.3 million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills to date in 2023, which already exceeds last year’s totals of 58 million pills.3 More than 11,400 pounds of fentanyl powder have been seized as well.3 This may sound like a “street drug” problem, but it’s not. It’s everyone’s problem because criminal organizations are mass-producing fake pills and selling them as legitimate prescription drugs.3 What’s even more concerning is how easy these fake pills are to find and buy.3,4 Because they often are sold on legitimate social media platforms such as Snapchat, anyone can obtain them—including minors.4 And it takes only a tiny amount of fentanyl—just 2 mg—to kill.3

Can you see if it’s medicine or poison?

Many of the fake pills sold by criminals are carefully manufactured to mimic “real” prescription medicines.3 To the average consumer, they are virtually indistinguishable.3

Think you can’t be fooled? See if you can tell the difference between the real and fake prescription drugs below.3

Authentic Oxycodone (OxyContin®) Authentic Xanax®

Authentic Adderall®           (20 mg tablets)

Fake Oxycodone®; may contain fentanyl Fake Xanax®; may contain fentanyl Fake Adderall®(30 mg tablets); may contain fentanyl

The images above are just examples and do not represent the endless varieties of fake pills currently available.³ Never trust your own eyes to confirm that a pill is legitimate.³ The only safe medications are those prescribed by your doctor and purchased at a reputable pharmacy.³

The fentanyl factor

Sixty-four percent of all overdose deaths that occurred between May 2020 and April 2021 involved synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which include both fentanyl and illicit fentanyl analogs).5 Exposure to fentanyl, which can be up to 50 times as potent as heroin, can result in a fatal overdose within minutes.5,6 Due to the higher potency of fentanyl, multiple doses of naloxone often are needed to successfully reverse these types of overdoses.7 Consider the results of a 2022 study of opioid overdose situations where naloxone was administered by bystanders:7

  • In 78% of cases, two or more doses of naloxone were used to revive the victim.7
  • In 30% of cases, three or more doses of naloxone were used.7

Fake pills are everywhere

Sadly, the stories of lives lost as a consequence of consuming counterfeit medications are nearly as common as the fake pills that currently flood our communities.8-11 Here are just a few of these stories from the past year:

Act Quickly In An Emergency

When you consider how common it has become for people to fall victim to fake pills, is it possible that you know someone who is at risk? When faced with an accidental opioid overdose situation, taking action quickly can be a matter of life and death.5 Kloxxado® can help you reverse the overdose and safe a life.12

Get to know Kloxxado®

Kloxxado® can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose within minutes.12 It is an opioid antagonist indicated for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose, as manifested by respiratory and/or central nervous system depression for adult and pediatric patients.12

Kloxxado® puts more medicine to work

More potent opioids, such as fentanyl, have been shown to require multiple doses of naloxone to counteract.7 Kloxxado® contains twice as much medicine per spray as Narcan® (Naloxone HCl) Nasal Spray 4 mg.12,13,14

Kloxxado® is a registered trademark of Hikma Specialty USA Inc.

All other registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

NOTE: This article was not written by a medical professional and is not intended to substitute for the guidance of a physician. These are not Hikma’s recommendations, but rather facts and data collected from various reliable medical sources. For a full list of resources and their attributing links, see below.



    1. NPR, “Teen drug overdose deaths rose sharply in 2020 driven by fentanyl laced pills,” https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/04/12/1092309418/teen-drug-overdose-deaths-rose-sharply-in-2020-driven-by-fentanyl-laced-pills, Accessed on July 18, 2022.
    2. USA Today, “Drug overdose Ohio State Adderall,” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/05/06/drug-overdose-ohio-state-adderall/9672391002/, Accessed on July 18, 2022.
    3. The Columbus Dispatch, “What can be done to combat overdose Ohio State,” https://www.dispatch.com/story/opinion/columns/guest/2022/05/10/opinion-what-can-done-combat-overdose-campus-ohio-state-overdoses-avery-meyer/9703025002/, Accessed on July 18, 2022.
    4. DEA, “Public safety alert,” https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2021/09/27/dea-issues-public-safety-alert, Accessed on July 18, 2022.
    5. DEA, “One pill can kill initiative,” https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2022-03/20220208-DEA_OPCK%20Overview%20and%20Key%20Results.pdf, Accessed on July 18, 2022.
    6. Web MD, “Ohio State warns of fake Adderall pills,” https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/news/20220509/ohio-state-warns-of-fake-adderall-pills-after-two-students-die, Accessed on July 18, 2022.
    7. DEA, “Onepill toolbox,” https://www.dea.gov/onepill-toolbox, Accessed on July 18, 2022.
    8. FDA, “Buying using medicine safely,” https://www.fda.gov/drugs/buying-using-medicine-safely/counterfeit-medicine, Accessed on July 18, 2022.
    9. Multco, “Two teens die overdose suspected counterfeit pills containing fentanyl,” https://www.multco.us/multnomah-county/news/two-teens-die-overdose-suspected-counterfeit-pills-containing-fentanyl, Accessed on July 18, 2022.
    10. KLOXXADO® (naloxone HCl) Nasal Spray [prescribing information]. Columbus, OH: Hikma Specialty USA Inc., 2021
    11. NARCAN®(naloxone HCl) Nasal Spray [prescribing information]. Plymouth Meeting, PA: Emergent BioSolutions Inc., 2020