November 20, 2023: China takes steps to disrupt pill press and precursor exports

Major Stories

China agreed to cooperate in stopping pill press sales. An Indian company launched a U.S. recall of contaminated eye drops. Federal courts stayed sales of unapproved dietary supplements.  

China’s National Narcotics Control Commission warned companies in China to “be cautious” selling chemicals and equipment being used to make narcotics and psychotropic drugs—including precursor chemicals and pill presses. The notice comes after President Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Week in San Francisco last week.  Read the Administration’s fact sheet about the meeting.

After a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning in October, Kilitch Healthcare India Limited recalled 27 different kinds of over-the-counter eye drops sold by U.S. retailers because they were not made in sterile conditions. FDA inspectors who visited Kilitch’s factory in October found that workers were not wearing gloves, gowns, or masks properly and that the plant had cracked floors, water stains and peeling paint. The inspection report also suggests that factory officials falsified contamination test results.

A federal court halted the sales of supplements made by Utah-based Evig LLC and Premium Productions LLC until both companies prove they are complying with good manufacturing practice requirements and labeling regulations. The companies, which sold under the brand Balance of Nature, made unapproved claims that their products could cure, treat or prevent cancer, heart disease, cirrhosis, diabetes, asthma, and COVID-19.

A federal court in Arizona filed a permanent injunction halting the sales of “Smart Women’s Choice,” a non-FDA approved cream that was being marketed as a 99.8 percent effective, hormone-free contraceptive.

(U.S. State Department)

President Biden and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China in Woodside, California, November 2023. (U.S. State Dept)

International News

Canada warned about fake prescription pills made of “iso.” Bangladeshi authorities shut down a counterfeit injection operation. Australia reported its Operation Pangea results.

In Canada, British Columbia’s Interior Health Department warned residents that fake 8mg hydromorphone tablets that contain isotonitazene had been found in the province. Isotonitazene (also called “iso”) is a synthetic opioid that is equal to or more potent than fentanyl and has never been approved for human use.

Law enforcement in Bangladesh uncovered a ring distributing counterfeit prescription injectables used in kidney dialysis and to treat jaundice in newborns, tetanus and vitamin K deficiency. The drugs, which were low-priced medicines relabeled to make them look like products from the U.S. and Europe, have reached pharmacies nationwide.

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced results for this year’s Operation Pangea. Together with the Australian Border Force, TGA intercepted more than 300,000 units of illegally imported, counterfeit or substandard  medicines, including pain killers, cancer treatments, ED drugs, and other prescription medications.

Regulators in the Philippines warned residents to be wary about fake versions of Neozep®Forte, a cold medicine, circulating in the country.

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration warned residents about the danger of buying counterfeit medicines from online pharmacies, including those pretending to be based in Taiwan.

British Columbia's warning about fake Dilaudid made with isotonitazene.

Domestic News

An Idaho man was sentenced for importing and selling illegal workout supplements. News about prosecutions involving pill presses in Florida and Rhode Island.

Equipment seized in Gordon's Orlando, Florida residence, April 2022. (U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida)

Equipment seized in Gordon's Orlando, Florida residence, April 2022. (U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida)

Michael Terry Little of Nampa, Idaho received a two-year prison sentence for the online sale of more than $4 million in workout supplements that he illegally imported in bulk from China.

Patrick Silfrain of Winter Garden, Florida was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in federal prison for leading a ring that made and distributed counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl. When DEA agents searched multiple sites related to the operation in April 2022, they seized over 23 kilograms of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, over a kilogram of methamphetamine, 17 firearms, 11 pill presses, and over $600,000 in U.S. currency. Silfrain is the third defendant to be sentenced. Co-defendants Jean Kesnor Choisil and Kevin Jean-Gilles received sentences of six-and-a-half and nineteenth-and-a-half years respectively.

In Rhode Island, Giovanny Toro Gallego of Providence pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. DEA agents seized almost three kilograms of fentanyl in pill and powder form; two pill presses and punch dies for marking pills from his residents in June 2023.

O’Neil Clifton Gordon of Orlando, Florida pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl after he was caught with fentanyl and a pill press in 2022. A warranted search showed that Gordon had used his Instagram account to coordinate that sale of cocaine, pills, and marijuana.