ABC15 Arizona reports that an Annapolis, Maryland woman named Michele Marshall received counterfeit supplements from Amazon.com. Ms. Marshall purchased a probiotic supplement called Align from Amazon.com in April 2019. The actual seller was a third-party site offering the supplements for sale as a ‘Prime’ purchase, meaning the product is guaranteed to arrive in 2 days and is promoted among the first offerings seen by Amazon customers when they conduct a product search.
According to ABC15, Marshall received notice from Amazon on July 3rd that they suspected the supplements were counterfeit, describing them as “likely not genuine.” Marshall had purchased a pack of 64 pills in April and had been taking them daily. Amazon refunded her money when she called Amazon customer service, but the agent she spoke to could tell her nothing about what she had actually been taking, and told her “you should go see your doctor.”
Marshall did indeed see a doctor about health symptoms she was having. Her symptoms started occurring a couple of weeks after starting to take the supplements, and went away when she stopped. She told ABC15 “I’m a mom, I’m a wife, and I care about my health and I don’t want to be the only one that cares about my health. I think Amazon should too.”
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) found 4,125 items for sale via Amazon.com that were of concern. WSJ reports that those 4,125 items “have been declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled or are banned by federal regulators—items that big-box retailers’ policies would bar from their shelves. Among those items, at least 2,000 listings for toys and medications lacked warnings about health risks to children.”
The WSJ investigation found that 116 products on the site were falsely listed as “FDA-approved,” 43 oral benzocaine products were sold without FDA warnings, and 52 listings for products that have been specifically banned by the FDA and the Justice Department for containing illegally imported prescription medication. Included in the list of “FDA-approved” products was an eyelash growth serum that has never undergone FDA approval.