Counterfeit Medicine News for the Week of October 12, 2020

Watch our news of the week to learn how USPLabs sold supplements that caused heart attacks, liver failure and deaths.


A federal court in Texas fined and sentenced two former executives of USPlabs to prison for selling workout supplements that contained undeclared ingredients, including a stimulant that caused  liver failure and deaths in 2013. Two companies who manufactured and sold the products will forfeit $10.7 million, and three more defendants await sentencing.

A federal grand jury has indicted Eric Prescott Kay for allegedly providing counterfeit pills that led to the death of L.A. Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs in July 2019. According to court documents, Kay regularly dealt fentanyl pills to Skaggs and others in the Angels organization.

Two Lake Havasu City, Arizona residents have been charged with felony offenses related to the distribution of counterfeit prescription drugs that led to near-fatal poisonings.


Florida received no bids on its $30 million RFP to set up and operate a drug importation program. The deadline for the invitation to negotiate was September 29, 2020.

A new poll commissioned by the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies shows that Americans are blind to the dangers of online pharmacies. Even though the number of U.S. residents who have used an online pharmacy has risen from 23% to 35% since 2013, 71% of American have never heard about the risks of buying prescription medications online.

COVID-19 Counterfeits And Fraud:

In a warning about the continued prevalence of COVID-19 related fraud, The Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that the National Center for Disaster Fraud has received more than 76,000 COVID-19-related fraud tips since March 16th and the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center has received more than 20,000 tips regarding suspicious websites and media postings.

In Rhode Island, Care New England is disposing of 11,000 N95 masks after some of them did not meet NIOSH standards. The masks bore the name of Makrite, a PPE brand that has been widely counterfeited.

The hand sanitizer problem is not just for Americans! Health Canada warned Canadians that a counterfeit version of an authorized hand sanitizer had been found at a store in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Makrite issued a statement about counterfeits in May 2020. Check to see whether your mask is NIOSH-approved.

A 23-year-old resident of Ardmore, Oklahoma has been charged with providing the counterfeit fentanyl pills that killed a 19-year-old in April 2020.

In Oregon, the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT) arrested 21 suspects who allegedly manufactured and sold fentanyl pills in Umatilla and Morrow counties.  BENT seized more than 8,000 fentanyl pills in the course of the operation, which is still ongoing.


On October 10, police in Colorado Springs, Colorado seized suspected counterfeit pills in a polydrug bust.

In California, El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents seized 1.3 pounds of fentanyl pills hidden in a vehicle at the Highway 86 checkpoint.

A Pinal County Sheriff's deputy who pulled over a car on Interstate 10 near Eloy discovered a large quantity of methamphetamine and 18,000 fentanyl pills hidden in a fire extinguisher.


Authorities in Alabama, Minnesota, Washington warned residents about an uptick in counterfeit pills in the area. DEA agents in Minnesota reported that counterfeit pill seizures this year had climbed to 46,000 pills by mid-August—almost four times over 2019.


PSM was deeply sorry to learn of the deaths of Emily Sparks of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Bobby Gregoire in King County, Washington, both of whom appeared in news coverage this week.

A Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff's deputy found 18,000 fentanyl pills in a fire extinguisher. (Source: Twitter)

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.