Counterfeit Medicine News for the Week of June 15, 2020

Postcard selling an air purifier to stop COVID-19 send to Georgai residents.

Postcard promoting an air purifier as protection against COVID-19. (Source: Criminal Complaint, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia)

Coronavirus fraud and counterfeit news: 

The U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey charged a Chinese manufacturer for allegedly selling 140,400 falsely labeled and defective KN95 respirator masks to a New Jersey company.

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia arrested and charged a Marietta, GA resident who allegedly marketed a pesticidal device as an air purifier that would protect people from viral and bacterial infections—including COVID-19.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against five Canadians who allegedly ran a $25-million investment fraud that culminated in false promises of PPE at the height of pandemic panic.

The state of Arkansas has joined Missouri in suing Jim Bakker for selling Arkansas residents more than $60,000 worth of colloidal silver products as a miracle treatment for COVID-19. 

California authorities are concerned that fake contact tracing scams are threatening the state’s real COVID-19 contact-tracing efforts. Real contact tracers will explain exposure, ask their contacts to quarantine for two weeks, and check on health and symptoms over that two-week period. They may facilitate coronavirus testing or grocery delivery, but they will never ask for money, bank account information. social security numbers or immigration status. 

Other Counterfeit News:

The FDA warned four companies to stop selling unapproved “homeopathic” injectable drug products, some of which claimed to treat serious illnesses such as tuberculosis and hepatitis, and others of which contained known toxins.

Law enforcement in Ontario, Canada seized 123,000 fentanyl pills, 70 kilos of fentanyl powder, 300 kilos of bulk binding and cutting agents, two pill presses and other drug manufacturing equipment.  This news was noteworthy not only because of the size of the counterfeiting operation, but also because of the quality of the counterfeiting: both the pills and their packaging look authentic.

There were smaller pill seizures reported in Yakima, WA, Akron, OH, and Bethlehem, PA

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics reported that ten residents have been poisoned by counterfeit oxycodone pills since May 2020, four of them fatally. Additional cases linked to counterfeit, fentanyl-laced pills made the news in Falmouth, MA, and Devils Lake, ND.

The district court in Blue Earth County, MN has charged a Hutchison resident with murder for allegedly supplying the fentanyl pill that killed a Mankato resident in May.

Two people were sentenced for trafficking counterfeit fentanyl pills: A Wisconsin woman received a two-year sentence for selling a pill that killed Leon Caldwell of the Menominee Indian Reservation in July 2019, and a woman in Longmont, CO was sentenced to 12 years for her role in a drug trafficking organization that distributed “pound-level amounts of methamphetamine and large quantities of fentanyl pills.”

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.

Counterfeit Fentanyl Pills Seized in 6/18/2020 Ontario bust

Bottle of counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl confiscated in Ontario in June 2020.  (Source: Ontario Provincial Police)

Close up of counterfeit oxycodone seized in Ontario, CA, June 2020

Close up of counterfeit fentanyl-laced oxycodone seized in Ontario in June 2020 (Source: Ontario Provincial Police)