Counterfeit Medicine News for the Week of November 16, 2020

DOJ received a permanent injunction to stop the sale of Natural Solutions' fake treatment.

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

The New York Times examined the N95 mask market over the last seven months, discussing, among other things, counterfeits and covid-scams that have threatened our frontline workers.

The Department of Justice received a permanent civil injunction to stop a New Jersey company from illegally selling “nano silver” products as a treatment for COVID-19.

The state of Oregon settled lawsuits with five companies for price gouging and selling products with false claims that they would prevent, treat or cure COVID-19.

The Better Business Bureau in Springfield, Missouri warned residents about a text scam offering money to users who agree to participate in a COVID-19 clinical study.

Britain’s National Crime Agency has identified the sale of fake coronavirus vaccines as an emerging threat.

In anticipation of increased crime around COVID-19 vaccines, INTERPOL updated guidelines to help law enforcement identify and address crimes impacted by the pandemic.

Counterfeit News:

NPR investigated Chinese vendors who have sidestepped their government’s efforts to stop the export of fentanyl and Mexican cartels’ role in a surge of counterfeit fentanyl pills deaths in the western U.S.

The Drug Enforcement Unit in Greenville County, South Carolina attributed a dangerous, local illicit pill trade to loose pill press regulations. The unit has seized eight presses from large-scale pill manufacturing operations just in 2020. Learn more about the state of pill press regulations in Pill Presses: An Overlooked Threat to American Patients.


Shanard Zelron Banks of Baton Rouge, Louisiana received a 15-year federal prison sentence for manufacturing tens of thousands of counterfeit pills made with heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and other controlled substances. Between 2016 and 2018, Banks and his co-conspirators distributed the pills in Baton Rouge, Mississippi, and the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Courts in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania sentenced 27-year-old Hector Nazario to 6.5 to 13 years in prison for selling 23-year-old Christian Querry the counterfeit oxycodone pills that killed him. Querry was found dead in his home in East Lampeter Township on February 13, 2019.

A federal grand jury has indicted an insurance broker in Wausau, Wisconsin who allegedly imported prescription drugs from India and sold them to seniors purchasing Medicare supplemental insurance.

A Lawton, Oklahoma woman has been charged with selling the counterfeit roxycodone that killed Doretta Rhodes on June 12, 2020.


Customs and Border Patrol at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California  seized almost 37 pounds of fentanyl pills among approximately 4,000 pounds of illicit drugs hidden in a truck delivering medical supplies from Mexico.

Pill presses and illegally imported dermal fillers were among the items CBP agents identified in a news piece about counterfeit items intercepted in Kentucky.

Border Patrol agents in Yuma, Arizona seized almost two pounds of fentanyl pills hidden in the frame of a bicycle during a traffic stop at an immigration checkpoint.

Sheriff’s deputies in Caldwell County, North Carolina arrested three people after discovering thousands of yellow tablets that tested positive for fentanyl in their vehicle.


In California, Santa Clara County’s Coroner warned residents not to take any pill that they did not get directly from a pharmacy, even from a friend. Fentanyl poisonings in Santa Clara County have almost doubled in the last year.

Pills seized in Caldwell Co. North Carolina, November 2020 (Source: Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office)

Fentanyl pills leaking from inside a bike frame, November 2020 (Source: CBP, Yuma, Arizona)

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.