OKANOGAN - The Okanogan County Public Health Program issued an alert, May 28, warning county residents that the super potent opioid ‘fentanyl’ has been found present within the county.

A release from OCPH states, “the super potent drug fentanyl has been found in the local supply of illicit pills. Illicit means bought without a prescription. These pills that look like oxy are fake and can kill you.”

The release continues to state, “Any ‘oxycodone’ or ‘Oxycotin’ pills purchased without a prescription likely contain fentanyl. These pills are known as ‘Mexis,’ ‘M30s’ or ‘Blues.’ Illicit substances containing the opioid fentanyl can look the same as ‘foxy’ opioid pills, heroin or even meth. Crime lab data from Washington in 2020 showed that every illicit tablet seized by law enforcement that was labelled Oxycotin 30 MG in fact contained fentanyl and not oxycodone, according to Dr. Caleb Banta-Green at the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.”

According to the release, in the past two weeks Family Health Center patients seeking help for opioid misuse tested negative for opioids but positive for fentanyl in urine analysis.

“These patients thought that they were taking ‘foxy’ or ‘Mexis’ not fentanyl. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than heroin, substantially increasing risk of fatal overdose. Multiple doses of naloxone (“Narcan”) are often needed to revive people with fentanyl overdose and this intervention is not always successful. Many people have died or survive but with permanent brain damage.”

The OCPH and FHC recommend that anyone using illicit substances follow safer use guidelines, such as: Carry the overdose reversal medication naloxone/Narcan and make sure friends and family know how to use it, never use alone, and test your supply before you use it.

The presence of fentanyl can be detected with fentanyl testing stripes, which are available for free through Public Health or the Community Overdose Prevention Education Project.

For health accessing mental healthcare or substance use disorder treatment, call Okanogan Behavioral Health at 509-826-6191 or visit www.okbhc.org. For information on overdose prevention or to get naloxone/Narcan or test strips, go to www.okcope.org, call or text Victor Mendez at 509-588-7925 or email info@okcope.org. To get connected to medication for opioid use disorder such as buprenorphine (“Suboxone”) or Vivitrol, call or text the Opioid Treatment Network cellphone at 509-322-5971. Okanogan County Public Health can also get you Narcan, test strips, sterile syringes and can refer you to treatment: 509-422-7140.

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