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GBI warns of dangerous counterfeit drugs
Forsyth, Hall see highest rates in Georgia
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Since 2015, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found six cases of drugs from Hall County stamped differently than their contents.

The GBI said it has seen 454 samples across the state in the past two years of counterfeit pills, which often contain a more serious or dangerous drug.

One example given by the GBI involved a pill marked as oxycodone, a painkiller, that actually contained fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl and a drug called U-47700.

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The Forsyth County News took an investigative look into the rising numbers of overdose deaths in Forsyth County in recent years and what is being done locally and nationally to combat the issue at its root. To read Heroin's Hold, click here.

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The GBI released a warning in April about furanyl fentanyl and U-47700, which led to 17 deaths in the first four months of 2017.

Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine.

“By a significant margin, the top counterfeited logos represent alprazolam and oxycodone,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles wrote in a news release. “The two most common substances found within the counterfeit tablets were depressants and opiates.”

Alprazolam is often seen as Xanax.

Miles also noted the GBI’s concern about transdermal drugs, substances that can be absorbed through the skin, stamped as different drugs.

Furanyl fentanyl and U-47700 can be inhaled or absorbed, according to the GBI.

In the Northeast Georgia area, Hall and Forsyth counties had the highest number of counterfeit drugs. Forsyth had seven cases in the past two years, Miles said.

In February 2015, Joseph Edward Patterson, 25, died after ingesting fentanyl. In court proceedings, Gainesville law enforcement testified the man believed the drug to be oxycodone.

Patterson was found dead in a Shades Valley Lane home in Gainesville.

Casey Trichel, of Winder, is serving 15 years in prison for giving the pills to Patterson.

Patterson’s mother, Lisa Hicks, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Trichel and others supposedly at the Gainesville residence at the time of Patterson’s death.

Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad Lt. Don Scalia said a lethal dose of fentanyl would be around 3 milligrams, with 30 milligrams being lethal with heroin.

GBI’s study of the counterfeit drugs showed the metro Atlanta area had the most instances statewide.