December 18, 2023: U.S. Seniors are also Dying from Fentanyl, says Senate Report

Major Stories

Overdose deaths among Americans 65 and older quadrupled over the last 20 years. A Brooklyn man pleaded guilty to selling second hand HIV drugs to local pharmacies. The FDA explained “What You Should Know about Eye Drops.”

Senator Mike Braun, the ranking member on the Senate Special Committee on Aging released The Silent Epidemic, Fentanyl and Older Americans on December 14. The report examines the four-fold increase in overdose deaths among Americans 65 and older over the last 20 years, recommending further research and outreach to seniors about counterfeit pills made with fentanyl.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published an explainer warning patients not to buy over-the-counter eye drops that claim to treat serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinopathy or macular degeneration. The resource also notes that homeopathic eye drops are not being sold legally and products that contain silver sulfate, argentum or methylsulfonylmethane are not suitable for use in eyes.

Brooklyn, New York resident Boris Aminov pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud for his leading role in a ring that distributed second hand black market HIV medicines collected from hundreds of low-income individuals to New York City pharmacies owned and operated by other co-conspirators. The scheme ran from 2017 to 2023, costing Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance companies approximately $20 million and endangering both patients who received the secondhand drugs and those who provided them.


Video cover showing New York map with NYC inset. Title is Lux Lifestyle Fueled by Med Crimes

International News

Canada warned residents against unapproved, injectable peptides. News about fake cancer medicines in Colombia and Sri Lanka. South Africa reported counterfeit Ozempic.

Health Canada warned patients not to purchase injectable peptides sold online by Canlab Research. The drugs have not been assessed for safety or effectiveness and may contain high-risk ingredients, additives or contaminants.

Bloomberg Businessweek published an investigation into how poor quality control in a Mumbai factory led to pediatric leukemia patients in Colombia receiving contaminated  methotrexate. The injectable killed four young patients in 2019 and sickened more than 100.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority warned that it had found fake Ozempic products being sold via platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and on the radio.

Laboratory test results determined that a domestic pharmaceutical company supplied the Sri Lankan Health Ministry with counterfeit immunoglobulin that contained no active ingredient. Patients who received these injections suffered adverse reactions, including anaphylaxis.

Regulators in Pakistan and India shut down factories producing counterfeit medicines.

Domestic News

An Oregon man pleaded guilty to selling fake N95 masks that ended up in the hands of healthcare providers.

500,000 counterfeit masks seized in Chicago, September 2020 (CBP)  

Jiang Yu of West Linn, Oregon pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to illegally import and sell $2.5 million in counterfeit N95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, Yu and his co-conspirators sold the masks to third-party companies with fake certificates of authenticity. Many of Yu’s customers went on to sell his products to healthcare providers. Yu will not be sentenced until May 2024, but his plea agreement stipulates that he must pay restitution, f​​orfeit nearly 600,000 counterfeit masks and all proceeds of his crimes including a 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo, a Mercedes SUV, and more than $25,000 in cash.

The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine warned nine companies, including pet supply retailer Chewy, to stop distributing misbranded drugs such as amoxicillin, penicillin, tetracycline, and erythromycin for sale over the counter without prescriptions. The unapproved medicines have not been evaluated for safety or effectiveness and inappropriate use of antimicrobials can lead to drug resistance that threatens both human and animal health.

Ralph Cardarelli of Derry, New Hampshire pleaded guilty in federal court to charges related to the illegal distribution of steroids. When federal agents searched Cardarelli’s home in March 2023, they found over 4800 vials and bottles of suspected controlled and prescription drugs as well as evidence that he had imported, manufactured, and packaged the drugs at his residence.