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Fake Drugs Have Real Consequences for Patients

Black market medicine is terrible for patients all over the world, including Americans. At best, counterfeit and substandard medicine may not adequately treat a patient's illness. At worst, counterfeit medicines may cause poisoning or death.

Each of the following stories mentions people who have been sickened or died after being treated with fake medicine. Every day, American patients are harmed when they break the closed U.S. drug supply.

Drug Counterfeiters Never Sleep: How Fake Drug Makers and Other Scammers are Exploiting COVID-19

March 18, 2020

“What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims. These warning letters are just the first step. We’re prepared to take enforcement actions against companies that continue to market this type of scam.”

photo of Josh Holton

Tennessean’s Life Cut Short After Following Journalist’s Advice

March 2, 2020

20-year-old Joshua Holton died of fentanyl poisoning in Tennessee after he took Xanax he’d bought online. He’d seen a TED talk online that suggested that users reviews were a reliable way to judge the quality of the drugs they were selling—but they weren’t.

Rock Roberts opening the Senate briefing

Life-threatening counterfeit drugs taught Rick Roberts that medicine safety can’t be taken for granted

February 25, 2020

Life-threatening counterfeit drugs taught Rick Roberts that medicine safety can’t be taken for granted. Rick Roberts, a professor at the University of San Francisco and a member of The Partnership for Safe Medicines’ Advisory Board, began thinking about the problem of medicine safety after he received two different counterfeit versions of Serostim (human growth hormone)…

4-Year-Old Girl Died in September After Swallowing a Fentanyl-Laced Pill. Now Her Caregiver Has Been Charged in Her Death

January 14, 2020

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner has blamed fentanyl poisoning for the death of a four-year-old girl in Glendale last September. The report cited fentanyl toxicity as the cause of the little girl’s death.

Comparison of temperature listing on legitimate and counterfeit Epogen labels

Counterfeiters caused a 16-year-old transplant patient weeks of agony

January 9, 2020

In February 2002, 16-year-old Long Island, New York resident Timothy Fagan needed an emergency liver transplant. The transplant was lifesaving, but Timothy suffered from terrible anemia after the surgery, and his doctor prescribed him a weekly injection of Epogen to treat it. The Fagans found that their son’s injections were incredibly painful, and after eight terrible weeks they learned why: the Epogen they had received was counterfeit.

A Texas Athlete’s Life Cut Short by Trust

October 29, 2019

Blain Padgett earned a full athletic scholarship and a defensive end position with the Rice University Owls in 2015 through persistence, vision and sheer hard work, but his dream of playing college football was cut short on March 2, 2018, when he was found dead in his apartment. Investigation showed that Blain’s cause of death was fentanyl poisoning: the hydrocodone pill he’d taken from a friend for his shoulder pain turned out to be a counterfeit laced with carfentanil.

Loving South Carolina Father Poisoned by Counterfeit Anxiety Medicine

October 23, 2019

Eric Highsmith Griffin of Lexington, South Carolina died of fentanyl poisoning on May 10, 2016 after taking a Xanax for anxiety. He had no way of knowing that the medicine he had purchased from a friend of a friend was not just like the medicine he’d been prescribed. He would never have risked his life or caused suffering to his children and family if he had known that a non-opioid anti-anxiety medication could really be a counterfeit poison pill.

Man Sentenced To Over A Decade In Jail For Selling The Counterfeit Pill That Killed Jaydon Rogers

October 21, 2019

On March 11, 2018, 20-year-old Jaydon Rogers died after he ingested a counterfeit oxycodone pill made with fentanyl. Recently, one of the men who helped put that pill into his hand received a sentence of 128 months in federal prison…

Multiple California Counties Warn Parents About Deadly Fake Pills After the Deaths of Two Teens in Santa Clara County

October 17, 2019

On September 30th, the Public Health Department of Santa Clara County, California updated a public health warning they had issued September 10th about deadly counterfeit 30mg oxycodone pills. The initial warning described “tablets visually appear to be the pharmaceutically manufactured version—they are circular in shape, light blue to light green in color, and have an ‘M’ inside a square stamped on one side and a ‘30’ stamped on the other side. Numerous fatal overdoses have been tied to these tablets, with a strong uptick in fatal overdoses in August 2019.”

Beloved Mother Slain by a Colorado Counterfeit Drug Trade

October 7, 2019

32-year-old Grand Junction resident Ashley Romero was the cherished eldest daughter of her close-knit Colorado family. With her warm heart and brilliant, 1,000 watt smile, she made friends everywhere she went. Ashley died on June 11, 2018, after taking half of an oxycodone pill. The pill was fake and actually made with fentanyl.

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