Rainbow fentanyl raising concerns in Alaska

The multi-colored drug comes in pills and powders and looks like candy.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 5:21 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A new form of fentanyl is causing Alaska law enforcement agencies and health officials to proactively educate the public about the inherent dangers of the drug.

Rainbow fentanyl, as it’s called, has been found throughout the U.S. While authorities won’t confirm if the drug is in Alaska, Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Austin McDaniel said it’s likely on its way.

“We do feel if rainbow-colored fentanyl — multi-colored fentanyl — isn’t already in circulation in Alaska, it’s just a matter of time until it will be,” McDaniel said.

The multi-colored drug comes in pills and powders and looks like candy. Earlier this week, the Alaska Department of Health warned on its Facebook page that rainbow fentanyl could be particularly attractive to children.

McDaniel said that’s a big concern, considering that even a small amount of fentanyl can be deadly. He added that fentanyl comes in many forms, including counterfeit pills that are look-alikes of Oxycodone and Xanax. McDaniel said parents and children need to know about the risks.

“Especially with these potent forms of fentanyl that are just claiming hundreds of Alaskan’s lives every year,” McDaniel said. “We really want this message to sink in with our young people, and with really all Alaskans, that one single pill containing a fatal dose of fentanyl just might take your life.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has called fentanyl deaths a crisis in Alaska. According to Gov. Dunleavy’s office, the drug was responsible for a 71% increase in opioid deaths between 2020 and 2021. In the first three months of 2022, the release said, law enforcement seized enough fentanyl in the state to kill over 600,000 Alaskans.

McDaniel said law enforcement partners are working hard to get fentanyl and other illicit drugs off the streets.

“We are working tirelessly day in and day out across the state to get as much of this off the streets as we possibly can,” McDaniel said. “And hold those that deal death accountable for their actions.”