Some experts say they are skeptical of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) warnings that Mexican cartels and street dealers are trying to attract children with bright-colored fentanyl pills, known as ‘rainbow fentanyl,’ NPR reports.
In August, the DEA issued a statement that said, “Rainbow fentanyl has appeared recently in several forms in cities across the country. A version seized recently in the Portland area resembles thick pieces of brightly-colored sidewalk chalk. Some versions seized elsewhere in pill or tablet form resemble candy.”
“I don’t see any evidence that the DEA has produced that supports that conjecture,” Nabarun Dasgupta, a researcher studying illegal substances at the University of North Carolina, told NPR.
Experts say traffickers have long used bright colors in their products for reasons that have nothing to do with children, such as to distinguish their product from others. They also questioned whether traffickers, who are driven by profit, would focus on children. They note that selling fentanyl pills deliberately to children would be incredibly risky, as the legal penalties for dealing to kids are severe. Some suggested that the real public health concern is dealers making pills that look like prescription medications.