SAN FRANCISCO—A San Francisco County Health official has issued a warning, urging people not to buy Xanax on the street. 

As of Friday, October 23, four people have been found dead due to overdosing on what are believed to be counterfeit Xanax pills containing a strong opioid called fentanyl. The most recent victim was identified as 34-year-old Andrea Choye.

Fentanyl is a fast-acting narcotic, which is often abused, due to its painkilling qualities that resemble those of heroin. 

Prior to the announcement from the county health official, seven students from Pinole Valley High School were suspended for taking Xanax pills. According to reports, several Pinole school teachers witnessed their students stumbling around the school’s hallways as if they were intoxicated.

School officials called the ambulance and police, and five students were taken to the hospital. The remaining two students were sent home to their parents. According to an announcement made on Pinole Valley High School’s website, the students are recovering and will be sent to the school’s Health Center upon their return.

The school is using this incident as an opportunity for parents and faculty to educate their students about the dangers of drug use. In their announcement, the school stated, “Parents and community, it is vitally important to talk to your students about drugs. Today’s incident involved a drug that is not even “illegal” and yet it was super scary to see how it impacted the student users. We know that peer pressure and poor decisions lead students to make risky choices…  But speak to your children tonight and in the days ahead, about making good choices, about making informed decisions. Adolescents take risks at their age, we can help by providing constructive and thoughtful options.”

According to examinations performed on three people who survived overdoses from taking the counterfeit Xanax, results showed that the effects of the counterfeit Xanax included muscle breakdown, and fluid filling the patients’ lungs. The case is still pending official autopsy results.