PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Nicknamed death in a tablet, it kills within minutes. No one knows where it’s coming from or who is making it.
Cops can’t seem to stop it, and parents are worried their kids might be next. Now, the super pill takes an even more sinister and dangerous twist.
The Pinellas County sheriff wonders if a drug dealer is making this tablet with the intent to kill. He’s worried that’s why someone is manufacturing this lethal combination.
What is the Super Pill?
The pill looks like Xanax but it’s 100 times stronger than morphine. Pinellas County has been ground zero for this new drug, though it has since spread to Central Florida and other states. When it was first introduced in March, nine people died in a matter of days.
This first-of-its-kind tablet is a mystery for Pinellas County detectives and the Pinellas County medical examiner. 8 On Your Side sat down with Pinellas County Sheriff’s Bob Gualtieri, who has called this a public health emergency, to talk about this disturbing drug.
“It leads you to think that the motives somebody has in doing this are to hurt somebody because it doesn’t add up,” Gualtieri said.
The drug is cheap – at just $5 a pill. People purchase it without knowing what they’re really getting.
“Drug dealing is all about making money. That’s the motive. I have a concern here that someone’s motive is to hurt people,” Gualtieri told News Channel 8.
Mom worries super pill will claim lives, recalls losing her son
Cindy Grant knows better than anyone else just how serious this is. Her son, Dan, was just 19 years old. He was a young man with an incredible zest for life, celebrating his high school graduation and looking forward to visiting colleges.
All it took was one night, one dose. With that one second of experimentation, Dan lost his life.
“It’s the worst feeling you could ever know. It’s um, he was part of me. He was extension of me. So, I lost part of myself that day,” Grant said.
“When I wake up, he’s the first thing on my mind. When I go to bed, he’s the last thing on my mind.”
Grant shared with News Channel 8 what she would tell her son if she could talk to him just one more time. “That I love him, that I miss him every day, that I would give anything for a do-over,” she said.
The heartbroken mom has dedicated her life to her child and to honoring his memory by helping others fight addiction. She describes herself as a preventionist.
Grant urges moms and dads to talk with their kids – immediately – because, with this super pill, there are no second chances.
Doctors have also warned parents about this super pill. Physicians are seeing an alarming trend of pill-popping parties where teenagers steal their parents’ prescriptions, pour them into a bowl and begin sampling at random.
Dr. Rachel Dawkins has seen just about everything as a pediatrician at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. She tells us she’s afraid the super pill could easily end up at these parties. Kids are essentially playing Russian roulette with their lives, Dawkins says.
“They don’t know what they’re taking and they’re just trying to see what the effects are, so it’s very scary,” she told News Channel 8.
She’s worried that the super pill will wind up in a bowl at a pill-popping party, and a teen will take it. “We see kids that come in all the time from overdosing on different drugs, street drugs, prescription drugs. Anything that kids can get their hand on, they’re likely to take and try,” Dawkins said.
Recovery experts worry ‘super pill’ could have devastating effect on addicts
At any given time, between 60 and 80 percent of the patients in treatment at Footprints Beachside Recovery Center are there because of their addiction to pills, including Xanax.
The tight grip of addiction is so powerful, Footprints President John Templeton fears the appearance of a new “super pill” could have a devastating effect on both active addicts and those in recovery.
Withdrawing from Xanax and similar drugs can cause users terrible pain that may have them seeking relief from this “Frankenstein” Xanax, as it’s available on the streets for cheap.
“You get violently ill, throwing up, fever. It’s like the worst flu that you have ever had. A lot of times, just having to face those symptoms, without any sort of medical withdrawal, prevents people from ever wanting to stop,” Templeton said.
Super pill aside, the number of drug-induced deaths over the latest decade has been on a steady rise. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths resulting from motor vehicles has fallen from 2004 to a near decade low.
And while statistics show a slight increase in deaths from motor vehicles, it is drug-induced deaths that saw the sharpest increase over the past decade.
The spread of the super pill
Trying to identify where this lethal combination is coming from has proven difficult for law enforcement. Tracking the spread of the super pill appears even harder.
While certain things, such as some diseases, have to be reported to particular agencies so they are easier to track, there is no formal system or database that exists at the present time to track every police department or sheriff’s office in every state to know if exactly how far or fast this deadly pill has spread.
Even though there’s no one common database to track every instance of the super pill being reported, we do know a number of states already have published reports of the super pill in their area.
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