Counterfeit Medicine News for the Week of September 7, 2020

Coronavirus Fraud And Counterfeits:

The Federal Trade Commission reports that Americans have suffered nearly $132 million in losses from scams related to the coronavirus and government stimulus checks since March.

Since May, the Justice Department has charged 57 people with trying to steal more than $175 million from the Paycheck Protection Program which was set up to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Defendants range from individuals and small groups to coordinated criminal rings.

USA Today published a piece about the supplement industry's response to Operation Quack Hack, an initiative to stop the sale of fake coronavirus medications and cures. It is a good overview of the fake-COVID-cure field.  Also in USA Today this week: an in-depth article about the Grenon family, who have refused to stop selling chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleach that can cause nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes and major organ failure, as a cure-all for many ailments, including COVID-19.

Other Counterfeit News:

The FDA warned 17 online prescription drug sellers to stop selling opioid painkillers to American consumers. The drugs were not FDA-approved and some of the sites did not require prescriptions.

FDA also reminded Americans to be wary of products sold on websites or social media that claim to cure cancer:  “...such products may appear harmless, but may cause harm by delaying or interfering with proven, beneficial treatments. Absent FDA approval or clearance for safety, they could also contain dangerous ingredients.”

The federal government has extradited a man from the Dominican Republic to prosecute him for his alleged role in running a fake online pharmacy that sold Americans counterfeit opioid pills that contained synthetic opioids not approved for use in the U.S. The pills are alleged to have led to the death of a Boise, Idaho man.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers at the Port of Nogales in Arizona seized 122 pounds of drugs, including 89 pounds of fentanyl pills, hidden inside hollowed out floor tiles.

A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania man has been charged with selling counterfeit pills made with fentanyl, heroin, Levomethorphan and several non-controlled substances in King of Prussia. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania officials issued a warning about the pills to residents.

50-year-old Beth Brace, a Bennington, Vermont resident, received a sentence of one to eight years of probation for providing the pill that killed Dawn Bossong in 2019.

Greenwood County, South Carolina Drug Enforcement Unit seized nearly 10,000 pressed blue pills with a street value of nearly $100,000.

In Colorado, the Weld County Drug Task Force arrested two and seized more than a hundred pounds of drugs, including 5,000 fentanyl pills, in the process of shutting down a ring that smuggled drugs from Mexico to the Greeley area.

Police in Canon City, Colorado warned residents about “Perc 30” pills made with fentanyl that had caused near-fatal overdoses in the area.

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.