Feds warn of so-called rainbow fentanyl in Oregon

August 26, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — At least two notable seizures of a brightly-colored version of fentanyl this week in the Portland, Oregon, area have prompted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to warn people to be on the lookout for it.

Rainbow fentanyl, as it’s known, is a version of the highly-toxic and often fatal synthetic opioid that can look like sidewalk chalk, or candy, officials said in a statement Friday.

Rainbow fentanyl has appeared recently in several forms in cities across the country.

Anyone who encounters it or any version of fentanyl is urged to refrain from handling it and call 911 immediately.

“We urge all Oregonians to be on the lookout for fentanyl in our community and respect the highly-toxic nature of this substance,” said Steve Mygrant, Chief of the Narcotics and Criminal Enterprises Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

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He said fentanyl is commonly disguised in fake prescriptions pills and that the fakes are indistinguishable from real pills.

“If you find or come in contact with pills not dispersed by a licensed pharmacist, assume they are fake and potentially lethal,” Mygrant said.

Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate there were over 107,000 fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2021, an increase of nearly 15% from the previous year, federal officials said. Synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl — accounted for more than three quarters of those deaths.