PENNSYLVANIA, USA — A nationwide shortage of prescription mixed amphetamine salts, more commonly referred to by their name-brand version Adderall, is leading people to find other ways to get the drug.
"There are a lot of illicit uses for Adderall, so that demand is there," said Executive Director and Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Harrisburg University Erik Hefti. "And not only that, it's heavily regulated, so it's difficult to get legitimate Adderall."
Social media and the internet have become popular destinations for people to find counterfeits.
"The big concern here is that in a shortage, Americans will go online and try to source Adderall themselves," Shabbir Imber Safdar with Partnership for Safe Medicines said. "96% of the pharmacies operating online that you find through search engines are operating illegally."
Hefti said easy access to knock-off versions of the drug pose a safety risk.
"Counterfeit medications don't have any quality control per se," Hefti said. "So you really don't know what you're taking and that can be very dangerous in a lot of different ways."
Instances of counterfeit Adderall in more than 25 states, including in Pennsylvania, involve pills laced with meth, fentanyl, and other unknown substances, according to a report by the Partnership for Safe Medicines.
One way to know if a pill is legitimate are markings that identify the drug and the company that made it. A tell tale sign of counterfeit drugs is not having any markings, though in some cases they do resemble the real thing like these images from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"These things look so good, even a pharmacist couldn't tell the difference," said Safdar.
Bottom line, Hefti said it is important to get your prescription from a reliable source.
"If you are getting Adderall from any place, besides a pharmacy or a healthcare professional, you are taking a huge risk that that is indeed counterfeit."