Fake remdesivir in India and more counterfeit news, April 26, 2021

COVID-19 Fraud

Indian authorities reported multiple cases of counterfeiting of COVID-19 treatments such as remdesivir. One pharmaceutical company has taken to social media to help people identify the legitimate drug.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma charged five Canadians and one Californian who allegedly used stolen credit card information to purchase items such as nitrile gloves, masks, and gowns and to resell them to third parties at inflated prices.

Check Point Verification Technologies found counterfeit vaccine cards listed on websites like eBay, Shopify and OfferUp. Carrying a fake vaccine card is illegal, and purchasing one involves giving personal information to counterfeiters who might use it for identity theft.


Jose Esmerlin Diaz of Salem, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to federal charges related to  distributing over four kilograms of fentanyl pills. Diaz delivered more than 13,500 counterfeit Percocet plls to a cooperating source in January 2020.

A federal jury indicted three Madera, California men who allegedly trafficked 5,000 fentanyl pills and four pounds of methamphetamine.

A Phoenix, Arizona area woman was charged with felony child abuse afer her 9-month old son ingested counterfeit pills made with fentanyl. The boy was revived, but a medical exam also revealed a skull fracture.


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)  launched a new initiative, Project Wave Breaker, which will engage 11 DEA divisions in a coordinated effort to disrupt the flow of fentanyl into the U.S.

Investigators seized approximately 25,000 pills they believed to be fentanyl, along with fentanyl powder, cocaine and heroin, which they found inside a Mount Vernon, New York home last week.

Deputies with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and detectives with the Vail Police Department seized an estimated 3.5 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills during a traffic stop near Vail, Colorado.

A Texas Highway Patrol Trooper seized 10 bundles of methamphetamine and four baggies of suspected fentanyl pills during a traffic stop in Carson County on April 26.

Law enforcement in Clackamas County, Oregon arrested five teenagers in a drug bust that yielded cocaine and 1,000 counterfeit M30 pills after one of the teens unwittingly arranged a drug deal with undercover investigators.

Pills seized by Eagle County, Colorado sheriff's deputies during a traffic stop near Vail.

Warnings and Deaths

Authorities in Beaverton, Oregon warned that several families have lost teenagers to fentanyl poisoning in the last 18 months. The parents of Cal Epstein, a Beaverton student who died after taking a counterfeit pill he purchased on Snapchat in December, shared their story in a virtual school district forum.

Another parent, Colleen Gregoire of Bellevue, Washington, launched a program to demonstrate the dangers of pill parties and counterfeit pills to high school students. Gregoire, whose son Bobby Ausbun died of fentanyl poisoning because of a fake pill last October, said that she is focusing on the lives she can still save.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the progress of the federal prosecution of the man who allegedly sold Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs the counterfeit pill that killed him in July 2019.

Authorities issued warnings about counterfeit fentanyl pill poisonings and pill seizures in McHenry County, Illinois, Evansville, IndianaEl Paso, Texas, Charleston, West Virginia and multiple counties in Georgia.

Visit Beaverton School District's Fake and Fatal "Community Conversation" page.

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