Counterfeit Medicine News for March 22, 2021

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

Contaminated hand sanitizers have been a problem since the pandemic began.  Watch Hundreds of Recalls to learn more.

New Haven, Connecticut-based Valisure tested 260 bottles of hand sanitizer and found that 17% of them contained the cancer-causing chemical benzene—8% at a level that exceeds limits the Food and Drug Administration put in place at the onset of the pandemic.

A federal jury added charges to the case against a state lawmaker in Nixa, Missouri, alleging that in addition to treating patients with a fake stem cell product and illegally distributing oxycodone and Adderall, she also fraudulently received almost $300,000 in CARES Act funds.

INTERPOL and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) continue to warn the public to avoid fake COVID-19 vaccines and other fraudulent treatments online.

Counterfeit News:

Prosecutions and Seizures

Two Ukrainians, who sold counterfeit cancer and hepatitis medications into the US, were sentenced to 71 and 33 months in federal prison, respectively. Learn more about this case on PSM’s website, and watch our November 30, 2020 video.

Eric Marques of Brockton, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to fentanyl trafficking charges. Marques sold a cooperating witness and undercover police officer 180 grams of fentanyl and 260 pressed fentanyl pills in 2020.

The former employee of a care facility in Northfield, New Hampshire was arrested for seriously harming two children by stealing their ADHD medication and replacing it with counterfeit pills last December.

Seattle Police and HSI seized 410,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl in a multi-drug bust in Bellevue, Washington.

Customs and Border Protection officers in Pittsburgh seized 3,740 illegally imported medicated eye patches on their way from Hong Kong to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Warnings and Deaths

DEA agents in Dallas, Texas, and Minneapolis-St. Paul warned residents about the rising threat of counterfeit pills made with fentanyl. Law enforcement in Grays Harbor County, Washington also issued a warning.

Two teens in Johnson County, Texas died after taking counterfeit pills made with fentanyl the second week of March.  A third has been hospitalized.

Fort Worth, Texas mother Rachel Wright shared the story of her son Luke, who died of fentanyl poisoning in February 2020 after taking what he thought was a Percocet.

We discussed the Healthy Nation case last year in What's App? Fake Drugs. You can read more about the case here.

CBP seized non-FDA approved medicated eye patches like these. There was no way to verify whether their ingredients were safe.

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