Police fear someone could mistakenly take one of the pills with deadly results.
“Pills that appeared to be Tylenol, seized in a drug investigation, were sent to the lab and upon getting the results for the substance, it turned out that the pills were, in fact, pressed to look like Tylenol, but were actually fentanyl,” said Lt. Jacob Morris of the Lorain Police Department.
Investigators say they also discovered 28 pills made to look like a popular prescription blood pressure medication called metoprolol, which a lab determined to actually be cocaine.
“The concerning thing is that everything about these pills did, in fact, look to be genuine and certainly at first glance, especially if you were to encounter them within a pill bottle that was marked with the blood pressure medication or as Tylenol,” said Lt. Morris.
Morris said even more concerning is that someone who might legitimately want to treat a simple headache, for example, may be taking more than they expected.
“The concern for our public is that someone could, in fact, encounter one of these pills and assume, probably reasonably so, that they’re dealing with an over-the-counter medication and upon handling it or ingesting it, become seriously ill or even perish,” said Morris.
Lorain police say they discovered the disguised drugs during two narcotics investigations over the past couple of months. They are now trying to determine how widespread the problem is.
“Clearly, in that this has been seized in the process of two different investigations and with two different substances, two different narcotics, this may be a trend that is somewhat regular or somewhat being used right now to traffic drugs,” said Morris.
Morris said an obvious reason someone might use illegal drugs that appear legal is an effort to fool the police. But he said it does not end there.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always law enforcement. It could be a parent, it could be a teacher, it could be a co-worker,” he said.
Lorain police say they are working with the FBI and the county’s drug task force on these cases.
They say anyone who has a question about whether a medication is authentic can give them a call.