Counterfeit Medicine News for the Week of August 3, 2020

Coronavirus Fraud And Counterfeits:

10,000 unapproved KN-95
masks CBP in Philadelphia
seized on June 4, 2020.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the mid-Atlantic region reported that officers in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. had intercepted unapproved and counterfeit test kits and antibody diagnostic kits, face masks, and medicines meant for COVID-19 diagnosis, protection and treatment. The products were shipped from a variety of countries and were bound for addresses in eight states.

The Federal Trade Commission is suing three companies that allegedly exploited consumers by falsely advertising the availability and quick delivery of hand sanitizer and PPE.

A report by SocialCatfish.com states that U.S. losses from coronavirus-related fraud and identity theft have reached nearly $100 million since the pandemic emerged in March.

Policy:

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched a program to combat counterfeit prescription drugs by educating online retailers about the sale of pill presses and other supplies used to make them.

Is the problem of pill presses new to you? Read PSM’s 2019 report, Illegal Pill Presses: An Overlooked Threat To American Patients to learn more.

Other Counterfeit News:

Prosecutions:

The U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Texas charged a past employee of the Los Angeles Angels who allegedly provided the counterfeit, fentanyl-laced pills that killed pitcher Tyler Skaggs in Texas in June 2019.

Federal prosecutors indicted a Massachusetts psychiatrist and his wife for allegedly smuggling medications from China into the U.S. in packages with fake shipping documents between January 2008 and January 2018.

Four people in Las Vegas, Nevada pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for distributing methamphetamine and counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl.

A federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced five drug traffickers to a combined 51 years in prison. Among them was Damarcus Mackie who manufactured and sold counterfeit fentanyl pills in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area and received a sentence of 25 years.

Law enforcement operations:

Federal and local law enforcement shut down pill trafficking rings in the Puget Sound region of Washington, in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, and in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

U.S. border authorities seized fentanyl pills in Phoenix and Yuma, Arizona.

Law enforcement in Placer County and Santa Barbara, California, York County, South Carolina and Fort Smith, Arkansas issued warnings about counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.

Deaths:

The Maricopa County medical examiner confirmed that former Arizona Diamondbacks’ football player Zach Hoffpauir died of fentanyl poisoning in May 2020. Pills marked as oxycodone were found at the scene.

News reported additional pill poisoning deaths in Haywood County, Tennessee and Claremont, California.

In the United Kingdom, Public Health England warned that counterfeit sedatives and anti-anxiety medications had led to a string of hospital admissions and deaths.

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.