April 2, 2024: FDA warns against using unapproved, high-dose lidocaine topicals

Major Stories

The FDA warned that topical products made with high levels of lidocaine can cause adverse health effects. CBP has added FDA-regulated products to a pilot program to improve product traceability.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised Americans to avoid using unapproved topical pain relief products that contain higher doses of lidocaine and similar ingredients than are permitted in over-the-counter sales because they can cause irregular heartbeat, seizures and breathing difficulties, and may interact with medications a consumer is taking. The warning comes after the agency sent warning letters to six companies selling these products.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced a partnership with the FDA to expand its Global Business Identifier Test, an opt-in pilot in which international sellers add additional identifying data to their customs filings. Adding FDA-regulated goods to the nascent program, which launched in July 2023, is expected to improve the traceability—and therefore the safety—of imported food, medicine and medical devices.

One of the unapproved numbing products FDA warned consumers about in its March  2024 announcement.

Domestic News

News involving pIll presses in California, Mississippi, and South Carolina. 

An Oakland resident from Honduras received a four-year prison sentence for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and cocaine. When law enforcement searched his home in 2023 they found illicit drugs, a firearm, a pill press and almost $59,000 in cash.

Firefighters responding to a house fire in Sangaree, South Carolina found six bags of purple and yellow pills, seven pounds of colored powders, marijuana, a pill press, a blender and other drug paraphernalia.

Mississippi’s Attorney General announced that an operation conducted in January and February had led to the seizure of two pill presses, about 76,000 pills, 114 pounds of powder, and 12 guns.

Drugs and paraphernalia discovered by firefighters in Sangaree, South Carolina. (Berkeley County Sheriff's Office)

International News

Britain’s MHRA warned about fake anti-choking devices. Japanese authorities are investigating deaths and illnesses linked to a supplement.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency warned that numerous counterfeit and unbranded anti-choking devices being sold online in the U.K. should not be used because they may worsen choking incidents.

Health officials in Japan are investigating “benikoji” supplements linked to at least five deaths and the hospitalization of more than 100 people. The products claimed to lower cholesterol levels.

Health Canada continues to update its list of unauthorized sexual enhancement products that may contain undeclared prescription drugs.

Victims of a Delhi-based ring that sold fake medicines to cancer patients in India, China and the U.S. are speaking out to Indian newspapers.

The fake anti-choking device, as shown in the MHRA's warning.