A batch of fake oxycodone pills laced with potentially deadly fentanyl was circulated in Mississippi and anyone taking these tablets could die, health officials warned Sunday. Gulfport Police department in South Mississippi issued a statement to warn the public about the fake tablets.

Over the past few weeks, the department's narcotics detectives seized multiple pills marked with an "A215" — a label indicating that the pills are oxycodone. However, analysis at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lab revealed the pills contain fentanyl with no oxycodone present.

“Drug dealers will many times sell these pills that are not what they claim resulting in drug users being unaware of what they are actually purchasing. This type of counterfeit pill activity makes the illegal drug trade especially dangerous,” the DEA stated. “The Gulfport Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are working diligently to identify the source of the counterfeit pills.”

Derryle Smith, DEA assistant special agent, said: "These type of heroin and fentanyl-related compounds are drugs manufactured specifically to meet the demand of opioid addicts. Fentanyl is deadly at the microgram level. Make no mistake, misuse of fentanyl will kill you!”

"A sweetener packet contains two grams and this is lethal at the microgram level. You could kill several hundred people with that amount," Smith told reporters at a news conference.

Oxycodone is a medication used to help relieve moderate to severe pain and is part of a class of drugs known as opioid (narcotic) analgesics. This drug is also part of an epidemic of prescription opiate abuse among both teens and adults. In the U.S., the opioid epidemic is becoming worse with time and as of 2015 more than two million Americans were addicted to substances such as oxycodone, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Common side effects of oxycodone include constipation, nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, sleepiness, tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, itching, headache, dry mouth and sweating. 

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. That year, there were over 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription drugs.