August 28, 2023: Florida officials asked to address “deficiencies” in their Canadian drug importation proposal

This week: The FDA asked Florida to clarify its drug importation plan. More contaminated eye drops in the U.S. Fake medicine, including a cancer treatment, in Mexico. A California doctor injected his patients with illegally imported Botox and lip filler. News about counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in 18 states.

National News

Florida must establish supply chain safety and cost savings for its importation scheme. The FDA warned about contaminated eye drops. 

Stat noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a letter on August 14 to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration asking it to address deficiencies in its Canadian drug importation proposal by today, August 28, 2023. According to the FDA, the state has not demonstrated adequate supply chain security or substantial cost savings for Florida residents.

The FDA warned consumers not to use Dr. Berne’s MSM Drops 5% Solution and LightEyez MSM Eye Drops – Eye Repair due to bacterial and or fungal contamination that could lead to infections that may threaten people’s vision or even their lives. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) has not been approved for use in eyedrops in the U.S.

Family advocates in California, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas spoke about losing loved ones to deceptive counterfeit pills made with fentanyl.

International News

Counterfeit drug news in Canada, Mexico and India. Smuggled prescription drugs seized in Dubai.

Mexico’s drug regulator, COFEPRIS warned about counterfeit versions of Ozempic, a diabetes drug; Opdivo, an injectable cancer treatment; the hepatitis B vaccine Provibac-B.

Health Canada issued a public advisory about unauthorized sore throat and skin treatments, as well as eye drops seized from stores in the Toronto area.

The Drugs Controller General of India warned that counterfeit versions of glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists like Ozempic were being sold in India.

Mexican fakes also post a real threat to Americans. Watch to learn why.

A recent article examined the toll of body contouring polymer injections made of ingredients like silicone on Venezuelan women who sought them out before they were banned in 2012.  Some women suffer chronic pain, swelling and illness from the injections and are expensive and difficult to remove. These cosmetic treatments are illegal in the United States, but Americans have died from them in at least 13 states.

Customs officers seized 96,600 pills of Cipralex, an antidepressant, and 75,000 pills of Pregabalin, a seizure medication being smuggled into Dubai.


A California MD pleads guilty to using illegally imported drugs. Defendants selling prescription steroids and adulterated supplements are sentenced. News about counterfeit pill prosecutions in 10 states. 

Two Connecticut residents allegedly sold illegally imported prescription drugs from the now-defunct (Image: The Wayback Machine)

Dr. Tien Tan Vo of El Centro, California pleaded guilty to injecting patients with prescription cosmetic drugs smuggled from a med spa in Mexico between November 2016 to October 2020

James Charles Rivera of New York received an eight-year federal prison sentence for his leading role in a ring that used the dark web to distribute steroids in the U.S.,  Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union between 2018 and 2021.

Federal courts in Connecticut indicted two former residents of Glastonbury, Connecticut who allegedly made more than $1.4 million selling illegally imported prescription drugs to customers seeking to boost athletic performance. The pair ran two websites and a Facebook group to sell their products.

William Goldsmith of Glen Carbon, Illinois pleaded guilty to introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce after he made more than $250,000 by selling imported sildenafil as “natural” herbal supplements. Sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, raises the risk of cardiac events in certain patients.

18-year-old Stephen Paul Brinson of Flower Mound, Texas received an eight year, four month sentence for supplying counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl to a community where four high school students have died after taking the pills.

Brandon Michael Shino of Jurupa Valley, California received an 11-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter for selling the fentanyl pills that killed Brittany Locke of Moreno Valley in January 2022.

Simon Armendariz of San Jose, California received a 12-year prison sentence for selling fentanyl pills disguised as Percocet to high school students, including a 15-year-old who was treated for fentanyl poisoning.

Nathaniel Evan Cabacungan pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and solicitation of a minor to use or sell a narcotic. Cabacungan, who advertised his drugs on social media, gave a 15-year-old Roseville, California girl a fake oxycodone pill made of fentanyl that killed her in June 2022. According to court papers, he left the girl dead in her bed and sold more pills the same evening.

Victoria Zupko of Powell, Wyoming pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges after an undercover postal inspector witnessed her receiving a package of 10,000 fentanyl pills in March 2023. Zupko allegedly told investigators that she had already distributed 10,000 to 12,000 pills.

Elina Martinez, 65, of Miami, Florida pleaded guilty in federal court to possession with intent to distribute fentanyl after police found nine pounds of fentanyl pills in her car during a traffic stop in Jamestown, New York.

People in Sacramento, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico and Bayport, New York were charged with counterfeit pill deaths or poisonings.

Defendants were convicted or sentenced for charges related to possession or trafficking of counterfeit pills in Mobile, Alabama (1, 2); Waite Park, Minnesota;  Scottsbluff, Nebraska; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Schenectady, New York; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Glen Rock, Wyoming.


Counterfeit pill seizures in nine states.

In Arizona, Cottonwood police seized 125,000 fentanyl pills during two stops on State Road 260 between Camp Verde and Cottonwood. Yavapai County Sheriff’s Deputies seized another 24 pounds of the pills during a traffic stop near Cordes Lake.

Detectives with the Seattle Police Department and investigators with Homeland Security seized 30,000 fentanyl pills and six-and-a-half pounds of fentanyl powder from two  homes in Mountlake Terrace.

Counterfeit pills were also confiscated in Milton, Florida; Pinehurst, Idaho; Davenport, Iowa; Munfordville and Tompkinsville, Kentucky; Mooresville, North Carolina; Loudon County, Tennessee; Layton, Utah; Clarkston and Lewis, Washington.

Fentanyl pills seized in Cottonwood, Arizona, August 2023 (Image: Cottonwood Police Department)