MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As Shelby County Schools looks to move into their new headquarters, they’re auctioning off items left at the Bayer warehouse, but at least one of those items –a pill press– has some people concerned.

With the opioid epidemic, there is concern the machine could get into the wrong hands.

The Shelby County Schools surplus items public auction online only equipment sale was posted in the Commercial Appeal Legal Notices.

Items include commercial pharmaceutical equipment, kitchen equipment and it also listed a fluid bed granulator manesty pill press reverse osmosis system.  

But seeing a pill press listed in the ad concerns Brian Sullivan with Prevention Alliance of Tennessee, a non-profit that works to stop addiction before it starts.

“We go into schools, churches, communities and we educate people on primary prevention,” Sullivan said. “Now I’m not saying that this is something nefarious. It could be a very simple mistake. We just need to be more careful in our institutions about what we auction off to the public. I can’t think of a legitimate reason for a lay person on the street to have a pill press.”

But he says pill presses are easily available to the public.

Just recently, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation warned about fentanyl getting into illicit pills, saying the abuse of prescription drugs is having disastrous consequences on the state including overdose deaths.

Sullivan says recently Naloxone production–the drug given to help reverse overdoses–has sharply declined due to manufacturing issues.

“With the manufacturing and supply chain issues that are happening and the overdoses going up, we know because of the pandemic, it couldn’t come at a worse time to have items like pill presses easily accessible to the public,” he said.

He said all groups must work together to curb the opioid epidemic.

A spokesperson from SCS told WREG “The advertisement of this online auction was premature as we still reviewing logistics and items that will be a part of the auction when conducted. We look forward to sharing information regarding this activity again in the new year.”