Lab confirms powder form of colorful rainbow fentanyl now in southwest Ohio

Colorful powdered fentanyl has reached the Hamilton County Crime Laboratory, and while "rainbow" colored fentanyl pills haven't been seen here yet, pills may be made by those who get the powdered form.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has been concerned since late August about colorful fentanyl, which in the last week-and-a-half has been spotted in 21 states, including Ohio, and 50 cities.

Orville O. Greene, special agent in charge of the DEA Detroit Field Division, which includes the Cincinnati region, was at the DEA's Downtown Cincinnati office on Wednesday warning of the dangers of the new form of fentanyl. He reminded citizens that all fentanyl can be life-threatening if ingested or injected.

Greene said the DEA is concerned that the colorful pills and powder will appeal to young adults and kids. "We view that as the traffickers’ way of reaching a new demographic," he said. And he noted that the brightly colored drugs could endanger children. “It’s a lot easier for the accidental overdose – the young child believing it’s candy."

Brian Scowden, assistant director, safety director and chief analyst for the Hamilton County Crime Laboratory, said colorful powder has been seen in the lab here, but the so-called rainbow pills containing fentanyl have not yet arrived in his laboratory, which is stationed in Blue Ash at the county coroner's office location. The crime lab is regional, managing cases from Hamilton County, parts of Butler, Clermont and Brown counties in Ohio, as well as the FBI's and DEA's Cincinnati cases.

"We do get submissions of colored powder, pink, blue, purple, that contain fentanyl or fentanyl compounds," Scowden said. No solid chalk-like forms or pills in rainbow colors and tainted with fentanyl has been seen.

Greene said that people may be getting the colored, powdered fentanyl for personal use, but it's possible, too, for people to get a pill press and make and sell fentanyl pills from the powder.

Primarily, large amounts of fentanyl, in pill form and otherwise, have been coming to the United States from overseas. The DEA put out an education campaign called One Pill Can Kill in September 2021 noting that the pill forms, made to look like Adderall, oxycodone and other legal prescription drugs, are often attained through social media by unwitting people, including young adults and teenagers who think they're pharmaceutical grade pills.

Greene said parents should be aware of the ease with which kids can get these pills and talk to their kids about the danger of overdose with synthetic opioids.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Rainbow fentanyl powder reaches Hamilton County Southwest Ohio