December 4, 2023: Unregulated “gas station” supplements continue to endanger Americans

Major Stories

Neptune’s Fix tianeptine products have caused fainting and seizures. A study in California found unlisted Viagra or Cialis in 67% of over-the-counter sexual performance supplements. Novo Nordisk is suing two pharmacies over impurities in compounded semaglutide.

FDA warned that consumers who had used Neptune’s Fix tianeptine products had reported adverse events, including seizures and loss of consciousness leading to hospitalization. Tianeptine is a non-FDA approved substance fraudulently marketed as a treatment for anxiety, depression, pain, opioid use disorder and other conditions. It has been banned in several states.

Researchers with the California Department of Public Health tested 102 sexual performance supplements available in bricks-and-mortar locations in and around Sacramento, California and found that 67 percent contained prescription PDE5 inhibitors such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) or tadalafil (or Cialis).

Novo Nordisk is suing two Florida-based compounding pharmacies for allegedly selling products they promoted as semaglutide, the active ingredient in Wegovy and Ozempic, that contained substantial impurities, including a non-FDA approved substance called BPC-157.

FDA warned Americans not to buy Neptune’s Fix tianeptine products. (Source: FDA)

International News

Lebanese authorities reported patient harm from fake Ozempic. Additional news about counterfeit medicine in England, Venezuela and Cambodia.

The Lebanese Ministry of Public Health reported that 11 people had suffered from episodes of low blood sugar after injecting suspected counterfeit versions of Ozempic between January and November 2023. Fake versions of the drug have been found in 17 countries.

In England, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s Criminal Enforcement Unit and local police raided addresses in the Greater Manchester area and seized thousands of opioid painkillers, antidepressants, and unlicensed versions of erectile dysfunction drugs.

In an article about the precarious state of Venezuela's health care system, Insight Crime reported that the country's National Institute of Hygiene has issued six counterfeit medicine alerts so far in 2023, including treatments for cancer, low blood volume, eye infections and skin conditions, as well as analgesic ointment and drops.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Health raided the premises of an online pharmacy and seized six kinds of counterfeit medicine and dietary supplements that contained the wrong active ingredients.

Domestic News

Two Colorado women pleaded guilty for inadvertently buying a friend fatal, fake oxycodone in Mexico. News involving illicit pill presses in Montana and New York.

Butte, Montana resident David Jesus Tapia-Padron pleaded guilty in federal court to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and other drugs.The government also alleged that Tapia-Patron illegally imported two industrial pill presses to a warehouse in Anaconda in September 2022.

Grace Kohler and Elizabeth Brown of Boulder, Colorado pleaded guilty to a felony charge for importing a controlled substance after they purchased 30 oxycodone pills for a friend during a trip to Mexico and smuggled them over the border in other medicine bottles. The pills turned out to be counterfeits made with fentanyl, and their friend died after taking one in August 2021.

The district attorney in Queens, New York announced that investigators had searched a vehicle and an apartment in Flushing and seized an estimated $600,000 in illicit drugs, including orange amphetamines pills, Xanax, MDMA, fake oxycodone and psilocybin mushrooms, as well as parts for a pill press machine.

According to court documents, Brown and Kohler purchased oxycodone pills for their friend at this pharmacy in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Source: Google)