August 7, 2023: Federal Judge Awards $18 Million in Fake Surgical Tape Case

This week: A lawsuit over fake Surgicel hemostat concluded. New research spotlights fraud in sports supplements. A recently jailed cough syrup counterfeiter also settled allegations of violating the Controlled Substances Act. Counterfeit medicines reported in Canada, Egypt, India, and Mexico. Fake painkillers, Adderall and Xanax found in 18 U.S. states.

National News

A company was awarded $18 million in a lawsuit over counterfeit surgical supplies. A study of sports supplements found that 40% of them were fakes.  

A comparison of the real Surgicel tape with a counterfeit. Source: Court documents, Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, Inc. v XS Supply, LLC et al.

A federal judge in Florida awarded Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon $18 million, the final judgment in a long-running trademark violation case against a network of companies that made and sold fake Surgicel hemostat to U.S. hospitals. Surgicel hemostat is a medical device that controls bleeding during surgery and dissolves inside a patient's body as they recover. The counterfeit product did not dissolve. Investigators found the owner of one of the companies, M/S Medserve of India, making counterfeit Surgicel on the floor of his Delhi apartment. Medserve was also implicated in the sales of fake surgical mesh in 2011.

A recent research letter in JAMA Network Open reported that researchers testing 57 sports supplements found that 40 percent of them did not contain active ingredients listed on their labels and seven of the products contained at least one FDA-prohibited ingredient. The results are another reminder that dietary supplements can be ineffective or dangerous; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have the power to regulate them before they go to market.

Advocates in Beaverton, Oregon and Dickinson, Texas spoke about losing family members to counterfeit pills made with fentanyl.

International News

Counterfeit products—eye drops, cancer drugs, antibiotics and more—were reported in Canada, Mexico, India and Egypt.

Health Canada warned residents not to use unauthorized eye drops found in Toronto area stores.

Mexico’s drug regulator, COFEPRIS, issued warnings about six products, including counterfeit injectable morphine, a fake high blood pressure treatment, expired HPV vaccine Gardasil  and versions of the cancer treatments Adcetris and Glivec and  levothyroxine made for other countries’ markets.

India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation seized 20 million rupees ($241,666) of counterfeit medicines in Kolkata in July, including fake versions of several drugs that treat acid reflux and the antibiotics Augmentin and Clavam.

The Egyptian Drug Authority warned that counterfeit vials of human albumin had been found in the country.

closeup of a label on a bottle

Close up of a medicine label

COFEPRIS's August 2023 warning about this high blood pressure treatment said that analysis showed a lack of active  ingredients and irregularities in the drug packaging.


Fake cough syrup makers also paid $2.4 million to settle allegations of Controlled Substance Act violations, including smuggling opioid pills. Case involving counterfeit pills made with illicit drugs in seven states..

Evidence was removed from the Woodfield Distribution Center in Sugar Land during a seizure in August 2021. Source: DEA Houston

Florida-based Woodfield Distribution LLC and its owner, Adam Runsdorf surrendered seven Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrations and agreed to pay $2.475 million in fines to settle allegations that they failed to properly account for controlled substances. The charges included falsifying importation documents and illegally importing more than 200 million opioid pills between 2018 and 2020. Woodfield’s owner, Adam Runsdorf, received a six-year prison sentence on July 27 for his part in a ring that sold counterfeit cough syrup.

In North Carolina, Lenoir resident Jermaine Douglas Grandy, 42, received a 35-year sentence for transporting counterfeit pills made of fentanyl from Arizona to Caldwell County between December 2020 and February 2021. Law enforcement found 34,000 pills concealed in his car on Valentine’s Day 2021.

Solomon Odubajo, 37, of Tempe, Arizona was sentenced to over 20 years in federal prison after postal inspectors discovered that he had shipped a vacuum cleaner stuffed with fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl to a house in Garfield Heights, Ohio. Law enforcement seized a total of 15,000 pills when they arrested Odubajo in April 2020.

Santo Evangelista Soto, 36, received a five-year prison sentence for trafficking heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including 1,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained heroin and methamphetamine.

People in Riverside County, California and Garland, Texas were charged in counterfeit pill deaths or poisonings.


Counterfeit pills, including painkillers made with fentanyl, fake Adderall and bootleg Xanax found in 15 states.

In Texas, the Stratford Police Chief discovered 175,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills during a traffic stop in Sherman County. Two men on their way from Phoenix, Arizona to Wichita, Kansas were arrested.

Law enforcement seized 14 pounds of counterfeit Adderall, 1,260 alprazolam (Xanax) pills and over 21 pounds of other illicit drugs during a bust in Orange County, California.

An Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper seized 35 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 near Winslow. Law enforcement seized another 51,000 pills in Mesa and 40,000 pills in Coconino County.

Counterfeit pills were also confiscated in Judsonia, Arkansas; Wheat Ridge, Colorado; Honolulu, Hawaii; Pocatello and Post Falls, Idaho; Pittsburg, Kansas; Brainerd, Minnesota; Callaway County, Missouri; Painesville, Ohio; Portland, Oregon (1, 2); Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Spokane and Tukwila, Washington and Evansville, Wyoming.

K9 Rocky poses with a Garden Grove Police Officer after seizing fake pills from an Orange County, California home.