Counterfeit Medicine News for the Week of May 25, 2020

Coronavirus fraud and counterfeit news: 

The press reported about 3M’s efforts to stop N95 mask scams and about South Carolina’s and Australia’s efforts to acquire genuine N95 and KN95 masks. Federal authorities in New York charged a pharmacist for hoarding and price-gouging N95 masks and a second man for trying to sell  $45 million in masks he didn’t have. PSM’s #covidscams video for May 27th focuses on mask scams. Watch it here.

pills confiscated for being fake COVID-19 treatments

Fake COVID-19 treatment confiscated at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, May 26, 2020

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago confiscated 28,800 capsules of a Chinese medication that falsely claimed to treat COVID-19. Seattle CBP seized unauthorized influenza treatments being marketed to treat COVID-19.

The Los Angeles, CA city attorney is suing California-based Wellness Matrix Group for allegedly selling fake COVID-19 tests and treatments.

Modesto, CA officials issued a warning that a fake doctor is hawking Botox as a virus cure.

The National IP Rights Coordination Center’s director spoke about stopping counterfeit and substandard COVID-19-related products that have been flooding the U.S.

U.S. Representative Bryan Steil of Wisconsin has introduced a bill that would double the penalties for people who conduct coronavirus scams.


Congress is considering HR5663, “The Safeguarding Therapeutics Act,” which would grant the FDA the authority to destroy unapproved medical devices like fake COVID tests and counterfeit N95 masks, rather than shipping them back to the criminals who sent them. Learn more and write to your members of Congress to support HR5663.

Other Counterfeit News:

Learn about counterfeit drug activity in Washington, or in your state

In Washington State, a Skagit County man was arrested on May 15th for allegedly manufacturing and selling counterfeit drugs made with suspected fentanyl. Police seized similar pills during arrests on May 20th and May 26th. The Whatcom County, WA Sheriff's Office charged a second person for allegedly selling counterfeit fentanyl pills that a Bellingham resident last year.

Police in Valley Center, CA  issued a warning after four cases of fentanyl poisoning (two fatal) as a result of counterfeit OxyContin pills. Owensboro, Kentucky police issued a similar warning after five people overdosed on fake prescription pills containing an unknown substance.

A mother in Olathe, Kansas warned about the counterfeit, fentanyl-laced oxycodone pills that killed her son in early March.

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.

HR5663, “The Safeguarding Therapeutics Act”  gives the FDA unequivocal power to seize and destroy counterfeit medical devices like fake masks and fake test kits. Ask Congress to empower FDA to protect our front line workers.