Counterfeit Medicine News for April 5, 2021

Policy: Scheduling Fentanyl Analogues

In March, PSM submitted a comment in support of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)’s proposed rulemaking to permanently schedule more than a dozen specific fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I controlled substances. PSM also supports the S. 339, the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting Fentanyl Act, which Senators Joe Manchin and Rob Portman reintroduced in February. S. 339 would permanently schedule a range of fentanyl-related substances and analogues as Schedule I substances.

Read What is 'permanently scheduling' fentanyl-related substances and analogues and why is it so Important? to learn more.

COVID-19 Fraud

The federal government allocated $30.4 million to the Federal Trade Commission to fight consumer scams, including those that exploit the pandemic. Consumer fraud reports in 2020 rose almost 27 percent over 2019.

Federal authorities in Maryland seized three more fake websites that claimed to represent biotech companies developing treatments for the COVID-19 virus, but were allegedly harvesting personal information instead. This brings the total number of seized sites to eight.

3M filed a lawsuit against a Florida company that allegedly sold tens of thousands of counterfeit 3M masks to a Massachusetts hospital at inflated prices.

The FTC offers consumer advice about avoiding COVID-19 scams.


Gladys Araceli Ceron of North Andover, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to running an illegal cosmetic injection business for 15 years. Ceron injected people seeking body contouring with silicone oil, a substance that has caused permanent disfigurement, stroke, death.

Daniel Richards, a Utah pharmacist who illegally imported chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, some of which was smuggled into the country with false labelling, will serve three years probation and pay a $10,000 fine.

Michael Reed of Longmont, Colorado received a 28-year prison sentence for his role in a drug ring that imported and sold methamphetamine and fentanyl pills. Reed pleaded guilty in November 2020.

In a separate case, the jury is being chosen for the trial of a Grand Junction, Colorado man who allegedly acquired large quantities of counterfeit fentanyl pills from Mexico and sold them in Western Colorado. Federal prosecutors linked the pills to the deaths of two Colorado men.

Federal authorities indicted 19 people in the Seattle, Washington metropolitan area for their alleged drug trafficking. The investigation yielded fentanyl pills, a pill manufacturing lab, and large quantities of illicit drugs, cash, and firearms.

Investigators in Ventura County, California arrested an Los Angeles man who allegedly supplied the fentanyl pills that killed a California Lutheran University student in November 2020.

In Washington, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man who allegedly sold the counterfeit Percocet pill that killed a 28-year-old who was found dead in a work truck last Thursday.

Police in Rochester, Minnesota have charged a man with third degree murder for allegedly selling the counterfeit fentanyl pill that killed a man on February 4.

Investigators arrested an 18-year-old Oroville, California man after investigators say he sold three minors counterfeit pills that contained fentanyl.

Police arrested a man who allegedly sold the counterfeit Percocet pill that caused the near-fatal poisoning of a 17-year-old in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Investigators in Columbia County, New York arrested a Hudson man after he sold them counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl.

We’ve found reports of silicone injection deaths in 13 states. No one should die because of these dangerous unlicensed treatments. Watch our video and read about some of these cases on our Seek Beauty Safely page.


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) broke up a counterfeit pill trafficking operation in Quebec by seizing hundreds of thousands of counterfeit pills that they believe contained etizolam and methamphetamine. The ring, which U.S. authorities reported to the RCMP. allegedly exported the fake medicine to the U.S. and Canada.

Law enforcement listed counterfeit Adderall pills made with methamphetamine among the drugs they seized during a bust in Westford, Massachusetts last week.

The Corona, California Police Department seized 15,000 counterfeit “M30” pills believed to contain fentanyl during a traffic stop in the last week of March.

Ohio State Highway Patrol seized 3,000 fentanyl pills from a New York man during a stop in Madison County.

Border Patrol agents at the Highway 86 immigration checkpoint near Salton City in southern California discovered a large bag of fentanyl pills and two packages of cocaine hidden inside the battery of a white Honda Odyssey.

Warnings and Deaths

Georgia’s Public Health Department warned that there had been at least 137 suspected fentanyl pill poisonings between January and March 2021. Victims reported that the pills that were falsely sold to them as Xanax or Percocet.

Authorities in Butte County, CaliforniaRochester, Minnesota, Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Steuben County, New York also warned about dangerous counterfeit pills.

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