RI officials say dangerous drug now in pill form

A dangerous illegal opiate drug blamed for 14 overdose deaths in Rhode Island this year is being sold in pill form and packaged to look like oxycodone, state health officials warned.

The drug is called acetyl fentanyl. It's a man-made, designer drug that you won't find in hospitals or pharmacies.

People who died earlier this year were injecting it. But now, investigators say they've found the same drug in pill form.

They look like oxycodone pills -- already a hot item among opiate addicts -- but the Rhode Island Department of Health says a new batch of pills found in the state is actually made from something even stronger -- a designer drug called acetyl fentanyl.

Over the weekend, Providence nightclub The Roxy posted the official warning on its Facebook page, spreading the word that a new form of the deadly drug is back in Rhode Island.

Acetyl fentanyl is a new, synthetic form of a powerful pain reliever used in surgery or for terminally ill patients. It's up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, but in powder form, the two drugs look the same.

Earlier this year, 14 people in Rhode Island died after they injected it. It's likely some victims believed they were using heroin, but got a fatal dose of acetyl fentanyl instead.

The new pill form of the designer drug hasn't been linked to any deaths so far. But authorities worry people who think they're buying Oxy pills on the street could end up taking acetyl fentanyl instead, with deadly results.

Where is the drug coming from? And who's making it? Those are questions the Drug Enforcement Administration and local police are still investigating.