Counterfeit Medicine News for the Week of September 21, 2020
On Thursday, September 24, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approved the final rulemaking for state importation programs, as well as requests for proposals regarding waivers for personal importation and reimportation of insulin.
Read The Partnership for Safe Medicines’ statement on this dangerous and costly policy and catch up on the latest importation news and policymaker reactions.
Brush up on the Administration's importation schemes with our Importation Executive Order Explainer video and blog.
The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Safeguarding Therapeutics Act, which would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to seize and destroy counterfeit medical devices and products. The bill awaits passage in the Senate.
Coronavirus Fraud And Counterfeits:
The FDA released “Beware of Fraudulent Coronavirus Tests, Vaccines and Treatments,” a video warning about the dangers of unapproved COVID-19 products.
An 18-month-old in Manitoba, Canada became sick after his grandmother fed him a pouch of hand sanitizer she had mistaken for pureed food. The FDA warned U.S. residents about hand sanitizer packaged in food and drink containers in August.
Despite persistent FDA warnings, online marketplace sellers continue to sell industrial bleach on Amazon as a “miracle cure” for COVID-19 and other illnesses. The treatment has caused 16,000 poisonings—many with serious side effects—in the U.S. alone, as well as several reported deaths in South America.
A caregiver mistook this package of Trolls-branded hand sanitizer for food, August 2020.
Other Counterfeit News:
The Justice Department announced the successes of Operation DisrupTor, an international effort that has led to the arrest of 179 dark net drug traffickers and fraudulent criminals in the U.S, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Sweden. Related incidents include:
- The seizure of more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine and thousands of fake Adderall pills in Los Angeles last February,
- The indictment of five U.S. residents who allegedly manufactured, distributed and laundered the profits from more than one million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills.
- The indictment of a Quebec resident who federal authorities have charged with selling a high volume of fentanyl and counterfeit Xanax pills through the dark web. The U.S. is seeking his extradition.
The DoJ also released an update about Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S), which launched in July 2018 and aimed at reducing the supply of synthetic opioids in 10 high impact counties. The initiative led to approximately 750 defendants being charged in federal court and to the prosecution of counterfeit pill cases in California, Maine and Ohio.
Dahlonega, Georgia residents Irfanali and Shiba I. Momin pleaded guilty to federal charges related to illegally importing male enhancement “supplements” from China. Between 2014 and 2018, the Momins made between $550,000 and $1.5 million selling these products, which actually contained the active ingredients in Viagra and Cialis.
A federal grand jury in Louisiana indicted William Earl Maddox of Haynesville, who also allegedly sold imported male enhancement “supplements” while advertising them as all-natural herbal supplements.
Customs and Border Protection agents at the Port of Nogales in Arizona found 102 pounds of heroin and 1.5 pounds of fentanyl pills hidden in the floor compartment of a car.
In Boston, CBP found more than 1000 green and yellow capsules that tested positive for Tramadol packaged as a kidney bean health supplement from Thailand.
The DEA in San Antonio, Texas warned about the dangers of counterfeit Adderall pills made with methamphetamine.
Two Marines stationed in southern California at Camp Pendleton are among five people who allegedly sold the counterfeit fentanyl pills that killed a fellow Marine on May 22, 2020.
The indictment of Eric Kay, who allegedly sold Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs the counterfeit pills that led to his fentanyl poisoning death in July 2019, has been delayed for a second time as Kay’s lawyers negotiate a plea deal.
Authorities in Gillette, Wyoming filed charges against a man who was caught with 121 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in July 2020.
In Yucca Valley, California, law enforcement arrested three people and seized 800 counterfeit pills laced they suspect were laced with fentanyl. Pills like these have been linked to the deaths of several area residents, including Steven Gilliam, a 49-year-old resident of Joshua Tree, on April 15, 2020.
Police in Lake Havasu, Arizona alerted residents about counterfeit pills circulating in the area that left a15-year-old on life support.
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.