January 21, 2024: U.S. Adderall shortages continue to fuel a black market in fake pills

Major Stories

The Guardian reports that nation-wide shortages have led to a thriving Adderall trade on online marketplaces like Craigslist, where dealers advertise them in classifieds offering “Study Help” or seeking “Study Buddies.”  Many of those black market pills are counterfeit. DrugsData.org started seeing an uptick in fake Adderall and fake versions of its generics in 2021. Its tests showed pills made of a variety of substances, including ​​acetaminophen, aspirin, duloxetine, caffeine and methamphetamine.

Learn more about this illicit trade on our Counterfeit Adderall page.

Approximately 666,000 methamphetamine-laced counterfeit Adderall pills seized in Cumberland, Rhode Island in 2022.

International News

Authorities reported seizing fake pregabalin in Northern Ireland and toxic cough syrup in Pakistan. Additional news in India, Vietnam, and Nigeria.

Law enforcement in Northern Ireland discovered a large quantity of counterfeit medicines, including 300 mg pregabalin tablets, during the search of four properties in Belfast.

Pakistan’s Drug Regulatory Authority recalled cough syrup after discovering that a supplier had distributed propylene glycol imported from Thailand to pharmaceutical manufacturers across the country.

In India, the Drugs Control Administration has disrupted counterfeiting operations in Odisha, Telangana, and Uttarakhand, seizing fake treatments for hypertension, pain, high cholesterol, acid reflux, and infection.

Counterfeit medicine seized by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, January 2024

Officials in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam proposed banning licensed pharmaceutical businesses from selling medicines through social media platforms or livestreams. Existing regulations do not adequately cover sales in these channels, which makes them ripe for the sale of counterfeit, substandard and diverted drugs.

Nigerian Customs delivered more than a thousand cartons of unauthorized medicines, among them painkillers and sexual enhancement drugs, to the county’s Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

NAFDAC issued a second warning about counterfeit Ozempic circulating in Nigeria and around the world.

The governments of Nigeria and Cameroon are implementing track and trace and authentication systems to identify legitimate medication to protect their citizens from fake and substandard malaria treatments that are estimated to kill 267,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa every year.

Domestic News

A fake Xanax trafficker got an additional sentence for money laundering. Two Oklahoma men are facing drug charges, including smuggling pregabalin. News involving pill presses in Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Darknet counterfeit Xanax trafficker Ryan Farace and his father Joseph were sentenced in Maryland federal court to 54 and 19 months, respectively, for laundering between $65 million and $150 million in Bitcoin that Farace was supposed to forfeit to the federal government after his 2018 drug trafficking conviction.

A federal court in Oklahoma indicted two men for illegally distributing xylazine and the seizure treatments gabapentin and pregabalin from a home in Tulsa between August 2021 and October 2023. They are also charged with illegally importing pregabalin into the country.

A pill press, firearms and illicit drugs seized in Meridian, Mississippi, January 2024 

Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted four shipments of pill press die sets and a pill press machine on their way from China to residences in Illinois, Ohio, North and South Carolina and Michigan.

Agents with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics seized two pill presses, over 80,000 suspected fentanyl pills disguised as Xanax, oxycodone and ecstasy, and more than 40 pounds of other illicit drugs during the warranted search of a property in Meridian.

Frederick Mopkins and his mother Vera received 10-year and 33-month sentences for fentanyl trafficking in the St. Louis, Missouri area. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the St. Louis County Police Department seized methamphetamine, fentanyl, pill presses and other drug paraphernalia when they searched a home and four hotel rooms related to the Mopkins’ activity in 2020.

Laura Garvin, a Maryland woman who stored an industrial pill press and a tub of fentanyl pill-making mix in her home received a two-year prison sentence for her role in a ring that sold fentanyl pills and cocaine in Washington DC and Maryland between May 2020 and September 2022.

Law enforcement arrested a man in Portsmouth Township, Michigan after they allegedly found equipment to make methamphetamine pills disguised as Adderall in his home.

Austin, Texas-based Defyned Brands will forfeit $4.5 million after pleading guilty to selling workout supplements that contained substances that are not recognized as dietary ingredients under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.