Counterfeit Medicine News for the Week of June 1, 2020

Bottle of silver liquid

Dr. Sherrill Sellman received an FDA warning on June 1 for marketing this silver supplement as a COVID-19 cure. (Source: FDA)

In a June 4th editorial the Center for Science in the Public Interest highlighted the continuing problem of supplement sellers trying to cash in on the coronavirus pandemic. The FDA continues to send warning letters to companies making false and misleading claims that their products diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19. Federal authorities shut down a business in Fort Davis, TX when its owner allegedly continued to sell fraudulent coronavirus cures and treatments after receiving a cease and desist letter from the FDA.

Homeland Security Investigations agents in Baltimore, MD seized more than 14,000 unapproved COVID-19 capsules and several COVID-19 test kits. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of Vicksburg/Jackson in Mississippi reported seizing two shipments of Lainhua Qingwen capsules and Banlangen granules advertised to treat COVID-19 symptoms, which were primarily made of sugar and iron. According to CBP, officers have seized more than a million counterfeit or prohibited items that claimed to treat, prevent, or protect medical staff from the coronavirus as of June 1.

Washington State has recovered $333 million of as much as $650 million in coronavirus-related unemployment claims stolen by a West African fraud ring. The FTC has a list of steps to take if a scammer claims your benefits.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy released their May 2020 Rogue Rx Activity Report, an analysis of how rogue online pharmacies have pivoted to exploit COVID-19 for profits.

Other Counterfeit News:

Authorities in Kentucky announced an uptick in overdoses that they attribute to an increase in the availability of counterfeit prescription pills. Similar warnings were issued in Flagstaff, AZ, and in Clark County, WA, where a Vancouver resident has been charged with controlled substance homicide for the counterfeit pill related deaths of LaJeune Q. Gay and Kristina L. Rosbach. In addition, Grundy County, TN deputies arrested two Monteagle, TN residents for the possession of counterfeit prescription pills believed to contain fentanyl as part of a larger investigation into the source of pills for fentanyl poisonings and poisoning deaths in April.

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.