October 16, 2023: More fake Ozempic appears in the EU

Major Stories

German regulators reported that almost 200 packages of fake Ozempic traveled from Austria to the United Kingdom via Germany. A pharmaceutical employee in Texas is the final man to be sentenced in a $52 million cough medicine counterfeiting scheme.

Regulators in Germany warned pharmacies and drug distributors about wholesale batches of counterfeit Ozempic after learning that a German supplier near the Swiss border had sold 199 packages of fake Ozempic to a British drug distributor. The ultimate source of these fakes is not yet clear, but sources report that  the German company acquired the pens from an Austrian peer. These counterfeit injections bear a different serial number than the ones discovered in the United States in June.

61-year-old Willis Reed, a production manager at Woodfield Pharmaceutical in Houston, Texas, received a five-year federal prison sentence for his role in producing more than 500,000 pints of counterfeit cough syrup for drug traffickers to sell in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Eleven conspirators, including Adam P. Runsdorf, Woodfield’s owner and president, were indicted in the $52 million scheme. All of them pleaded guilty, and have been sentenced.

The Ozempic counterfeits found in Germany resemble the relabeled insulin pens found in more than a dozen other countries. (Image: Germany's Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices)

International News

Mexican law enforcement shut down a fentanyl pill operation at the California border.

Police in Uttarakhand, India busted a factory making fake medicines, seizing supplies, manufacturing equipment and more than two million counterfeit capsules,

Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation seized counterfeit diet supplements and fake veterinary medicines worth more than $275,000 from a warehouse in Chon Buri.

Investigators in the border town of Mexicali dismantled a fentanyl pill lab that contained pill-making equipment, 35 kilograms of fentanyl and three kilograms of methamphetamine.

Pills seized in Mexicali, Mexico, October 2023.

Domestic News

A Connecticut resident was sentenced for selling illegally imported Xanax and fake oxycodone and Adderall pills made of illicit drugs. Updates about federal cases involving pill presses in South Carolina and Maryland.

Weak pill press regulation enables criminals to flood the U.S. with counterfeit pills made of fentanyl and other dangerous substances. Read PSM's 2019 report about the problem and  our 2021 update.

Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confiscated 653 packages of tianeptine from businesses in Lee and Orange counties. The FDA issued a warning about dangers of the supplement, which is popularly called “gas station heroin,” in February 2022.

A federal judge in Connecticut sentenced 29-year-old Farmington resident Shane J. Sawicki to 21 months in prison for selling alprazolam pills illegally imported from Mexico, MDMA, and counterfeit oxycodone and Adderall pills made of fentanyl and methamphetamine, respectively.

44-year-old Kelly Brosky of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and 33-year-old Garnell Lucas of Upper Marlboro, Maryland received 78- and 72-month federal prison sentences for making and selling counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl.

Clover, South Carolina resident Javaris Latrey Johnson pleaded guilty to drug charges for making and selling fentanyl pills at a clandestine lab in Lake Wylie in October 2022. Three additional defendants are still being prosecuted.