What We're Reading: DEA Warns of Fentanyl-Laced Drugs; Murder Rate Up 29%; Pfizer to Test Preventive COVID-19 Therapy

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issues a warning on fentanyl-laced counterfeit prescription drugs; a new FBI report shows a year-to-year increase in murders nationwide from 2019 to 2020; Pfizer will soon begin testing a novel combination therapy as a preventive measure against COVID-19 infection.

DEA Warns of Overdose Deaths Linked to Fentanyl-Laced Drugs

As reported by NPR, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a warning on the significant rise in fake prescription drugs tainted with potentially lethal doses of fentanyl being sold on the black market. Marking its first public safety alert in 6 years, the DEA said that more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized so far this year, which is more than that seized in the last 2 years combined. Typically sold on the street by dealers or online, the pills are made to mimic opioid medications such as oxycodone, Percocet, or Adderall.

Murder Rate Increased by 29% in 2020

According to data from the FBI’s newest Uniform Crime Report, murders nationwide increased by nearly 30% in 2020, with the incidence of homicides involving guns rising to a new record high. Reported by CBS News, the 29.4% rise in homicides and manslaughter from 2019 to 2020 was indicated to be the largest year-to-year spike since the federal government began tracking violent crime in the 1960s. Notably, 77% of reported homicides in 2020 involved a gun, amounting to 43,559 gun-related deaths, compared with 39,538 reported in 2019.

Pfizer Testing Preventive Combination Against COVID-19

Reported by CBS News, Pfizer announced on September 27 that it is testing an oral antiviral pill as a preventive measure for those in close contact with people, such as a family member, who have COVID-19. Combined with a low dose of the HIV drug ritonavir, the efficacy of the pill will be examined in a late-stage study of approximately 2660 people, with participants either receiving the combination therapy or placebo orally twice daily for 5 to 10 days. Pending efficacy, the pill could be prescribed to people who are at least 18 years old at the first sign of infection.