Counterfeit Medicine News for the week of December 7, 2020

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

Counterfeit COVID-19 test kits seized at San Diego International Airport on December 1, 2020. (Source: CBP)

University of California at San Diego professor Dr. Timothy Mackey advised U.S. residents to be on guard against COVID-19 vaccine scams, warning that there are no legitimate vaccines for sale online.

The FDA and FTC warned Illinois-based Paradigm RE LLC to stop selling Thymosin Alpha 1 as a COVID-19 treatment. The product has not been approved as safe and effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in California reported the seizure of 251 illicit COVID-19 testing kits at San Diego International Airport on December 1, 2020.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and CBP in El Paso, Texas intercepted more than 100,000 counterfeit 3M N95 surgical masks on their way to a hospital on the east coast.

CBP in Cincinnati seized more than 10,000 pairs of undeclared or misdeclared decorative contact lenses as well as illegally imported antibiotics, and counterfeit dermal fillers in October.

Counterfeit News:


Julian Tapia of Tucson, Arizona received a two-and-a-half-year sentence for selling the counterfeit oxycodone pills that caused the fentanyl poisoning deaths of James Bohard Senior and his 26-year-old son, James, in December 2017.

A Pittsburgh, California man was charged with selling a resident of neighboring Walnut Creek fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl that killed him on June 17, 2020.

A man in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin was arrested because police suspect he provided counterfeit pills to a fellow resident who died of fentanyl poisoning in his home.

In Montezuma County, New Mexico, law enforcement arrested a resident in connection with an investigation involving counterfeit “Oxy 30” oxycodone pills made with fentanyl.


In the course of a larger investigation into counterfeit pills, law enforcement in Ventura County, California arrested an Oxnard man who they found in possession of 10,000 oxycodone pills.

In Arizona, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested two men after finding 10,000 counterfeit fentanyl pills in their vehicle during a traffic stop on Interstate 17.

Deputies in Iron County, Utah seized 2.9 pounds of suspected counterfeit fentanyl pills and a large quantity of methamphetamine after a K9 alerted them to the narcotics during a traffic stop.

Overseas, Europol announced the results of Operation Shield, a six-month initiative to fight drug trafficking and sports doping during which law enforcement in 27 countries seized an impressive 25 million units of medicines, and 33 million COVID-19-related medical devices.

Pill-making equipment law enforcement seized during Europol's Operation Shield. (Source: Europol)


Snowflake, Arizona held a town hall-style meeting to educate residents about the threat of counterfeit pills and other illicit drugs.

Kansas City, Kansas authorities warned that fake prescription drugs made with fentanyl were circulating in the community.


PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.