Counterfeit Medicine News for the Week of October 12, 2020

New Research:

Former U.S Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Peter Pitts has published, “The Spreading Cancer of Counterfeit Drugs, Pharmaceutical Fakery Metastasizes from Lifestyle to Lifesaving Medicines,” a new paper which examines counterfeit medicine as a developing industry and the U.S.’s regulatory efforts to protect Americans.

The Pacific Research Institute’s issue brief Fraud in Your Pill Bottle reports on the economic and public health impacts of fake medicine in the United States.

In Phishing Landscape 2020, the Interisle Consulting Group offers a deeper look at one of the methods online criminals have used to promote COVID-19 fraud and, historically, counterfeit medicines.


Counterfeit News:

FDA warnings:

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings about dietary supplements that contain two dangerous ingredients: cesium chloride, which may cause “heart toxicity and potential death,” and corrosive “black salve” marketed for skin conditions, which can result in “permanent disfigurement, tissue necrosis...and infection.”


30-year-old Aaron Shamo of Cottonwood Heights, Utah received a life sentence for running a criminal enterprise that manufactured and sold hundreds of thousands of counterfeit oxycodone made with fentanyl and counterfeit alprazolam to buyers in 50 states. Authorities have said that the drug operation was linked to dozens of deaths.

An Okeechobee, Florida resident is facing charges for alleged cocaine and counterfeit Xanax trafficking. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office reported seizing cocaine, 17 pounds of Xanax powder and a pill press in the course of the investigation.

In Inverness, Florida, two residents have been charged with the alleged manufacture and sale of counterfeit Xanax pills. Detectives discovered more than 15 pounds of counterfeit Xanax pills, a pill press, and other supplies and drug paraphernalia.

Law enforcement arrested a 24-year-old Port Jervis, New York man after finding large quantities of illicit drugs, a pill press and stolen property that included medical devices in his home.

In Staten Island, New York, a man has been arrested after two people were poisoned by fake oxycodone pills he sold them.


Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at Chicago’s International Mail Facility intercepted 200 pre-filled syringes that contained a non-FDA approved arthritis treatment. The misbranded medicines were on their way from South Korea to a corporation in Chicago.

CBP agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico seized nearly a thousand counterfeit Viagra pills.


Officials in California’s Nevada and Placer counties are warning about an uptick in deaths linked to counterfeit fentanyl pills.


Two men in Karachi, Pakistan were arrested for allegedly selling fake and expired pediatric treatments for typhoid, tuberculosis, rabies, flu, pneumonia and other diseases to private and government hospitals.

Watch our 2 minute case summary, or read the government's devastating sentencing memorandum, which recounts the deaths of 90 people who had been Shamo’s customers.

Pre-filled syringes containing foreign unapproved arthritis drugs. Source: CBP Chicago, October 2020

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.