Don’t Judge a Pill By Its Rainbow Cover


A picture of the “rainbow pills” that have recently been circulating popular childrens’ toys. Courtesy of Raw Pixel

Anagha Dogiparthi, Op-Ed Editor

Most young children have a toy they have developed a certain level of attachment to. Whether that be the ultra-popular legos, rainbow loom, or even stuffed animals, they provide some comfort to their dedicated owners. Feeling drawn to the irresistibility of the toys, children would end up dragging them to the grocery store, the mall, school, and anywhere possible. As young children, they would never expect those toys to contain approximately 15,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills. In fact, no one would. 

Around the beginning of October, federal authorities detained Latesha Bush, a woman from New Jersey, exactly for this reason. She was charged with concealing around 15,000 fentanyl pills, specifically dyed in a variety of colors, in a seemingly normal lego box as part of a drug trafficking scheme. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, this was the largest seizure of rainbow fentanyl in the history of New York’s drug capture hunts. 

Although the numbers introduced give some perspective on the danger the wide dispersal of this drug might have, it is hard to understand the true damages without understanding the science behind it. 

The rainbow pills, upon first glance, seem harmless– without a deeper look, it’s easy to assume that they are just another variation of the colorful candies children have grown accustomed to. Unfortunately, these same “candies” are a clever disguise for “newly packaged poison” according to Good Morning America’s October report. 

But what exactly makes fentanyl harmful? As of this year, more than 56,000 people died from overdoses, which is an increase of over 50% from the previous year. Even 2 milligrams of fentanyl, which is approximately 12 grains of salt, could be a lethal dose. When thinking about this minor amount in perspective, the amount that the pills contain could lead to major health effects for anyone. Not only do these statistics indicate that the damages of fentanyl are already established, it also means that it could be very easy for young children to die even from a small ingestion of the drug.

Additionally, its effects on the brain are infinitely harmful and can easily cause lasting health concerns. According to the National Institution of Health, “fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in the parts of the brain that control pain and emotions.” When people overdose on this substance, their breathing can potentially stop, decreasing the flow of oxygen to the brain. The lack of oxygen flow to the brain could mean many different things– ranging from comas, permanent brain damage, or even immediate death. 

Considering that ingesting even the smallest portions of fentanyl can potentially cause an overdose, the impacts of the pills are evident. 

What actions have people in the community taken to ensure the safety of innocent children or any other victims that may fall prey to schemes such as these? 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a warning, stating that “With Halloween approaching, parents need to make sure they are checking their kids’ candy and not allowing them to eat anything unless it has been inspected by them”. Additionally, national organizations such as the Drug Enforcement Administration have released their own warning statements to parents and guardians everywhere.

Although Halloween is always an exciting event, make sure to stay safe during these trying times. After all, the rainbow pills have the uncanny ability to disguise themselves in any colorful popular candy– even someone’s favorite.