U.S. Attorneys in California, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Utah, and Washington moved with impressive speed this week to protect Americans from criminals running coronavirus-related scams related to medical treatments and gear.
- The Southern District of Florida filed a temporary injunction against a Bradenton church to halt sale of an industrial bleach, chlorine dioxide, as a cure for COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration has been warning the public not to drink “cure all” bleach solutions since 2010. According to past coverage, there were at least eight fatalities related to chlorine dioxide “treatments” between 2014 and 2019. Similar injunctions have been handed down for silver-based treatments in Utah and “ozone therapy” in Texas.
- Federal courts in Washington allege that suspended naturopath Richard “Rick” Marschall of Port Angeles, who has already received two federal convictions for illegally distributing a hormone for weight-loss, has been promoting mislabeled drugs as treatments for the coronavirus.
- The Central District of California charged a man for creating fraudulent COVID-19 cures and allegedly soliciting investors to form a company to sell them.
None of the products these scammers were selling are FDA-approved and there is no evidence that they offer effective treatment for or prevention of COVID-19.
- Defendants in California and Michigan face separate federal wire fraud charges for allegedly trying to sell N95 face masks they did not have. 3M has also filed suits in Florida, Indiana and Wisconsin against defendants who targeted government officials with fraudulent offers to sell N95 respirators at inflated prices.
Report from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
The Office of the United States Trade Representative’s office released their annual review of the global state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement. The Special 301 Report 2019 includes a discussion of the global counterfeit pharmaceutical trade and places both Canada and Mexico on watch lists for, among other things, “poor enforcement with respect to counterfeit or pirated goods at the border” and within their own countries.
Other counterfeit drugs in the news
In other counterfeit news, law enforcement seized suspected counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Geauga County, Ohio and confirmed counterfeit fentanyl pills in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In addition, authorities in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania have charged a man for allegedly selling the fentanyl-laced counterfeit oxycodone pills that tragically killed a 23-year-old East Lampeter resident in February 2019.
Even as we are dealing with the pandemic, PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs. Check back for next week’s summary.