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Counterfeit Medicine News for the week of February 15, 2021

February 22, 2021
Posted in , , ,
glow worm toy and pills

Counterfeit Medicine News for February 15, 2021

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

The Department of Homeland Security seized more than 11 million counterfeit N95 masks in five states and notified approximately 6,000 suspected victims of a massive fake mask scam in recent weeks. Those victims included hospitals and medical facilities in at least 12 states.

In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Cincinnati, Ohio reported that they had seized 16 pallets of counterfeit N95 masks-enough to fill an entire sea container. The fakes, which were on their way from Hong Kong to Quebec, were marked “made in the USA” and had the seals and lot numbers of known counterfeits.

A New Jersey laboratory is suing Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. for selling them faulty equipment that led to false and invalid COVID-19 test results. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a public alert about Thermo Fisher’s COVID-19 testing products in August 2020.

The New York State Department of Financial Services warned that it had received reports that criminals were using data from fake websites providing instant rate quotes to fraudulently apply for pandemic-related and unemployment benefits.

Police in Mexico arrested six people in the northern border state of Nuevo León for allegedly trafficking fake coronavirus vaccines.

Experts in the United Kingdom continue to warn residents about organized crime running COVID-vaccine phishing scams, and the European Union’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, warned about scammers offering to sell vaccines to EU governments as they face supply-related delays.

Counterfeit News:


Dominican national Brayan Gonzalez  received a 46-month sentence for distributing heroin and fentanyl in and around Waterbury, Massachusetts. When Gonzalez was arrested in October 2019 law enforcement seized 1,000 counterfeit Percocet made with fentanyl and numerous blue pills with oxycodone markings, among large volumes of other illicit drugs.

San Fernando Valley, California oncologists Stanley Rossman and Mark Goldstein pleaded guilty to purchasing more than $1 million in illegally imported, non-FDA approved cancer drugs from Montana Healthcare between 2008 and 2011. Their medical practice was among 135 practices nationwide that the FDA warned to stop buying cancer treatments from Quality Special Products, also known as Montana Health Care Solutions, in 2012.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey has charged three New York men for their alleged roles in a drug distribution ring that sold  fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine in New Jersey. A search on January 29, 2021, yielded  almost seven pounds of suspected fentanyl pills and suspected methamphetamine pills, two pill presses among other illicit drugs.


CBP at Arizona’s Port of Nogales has seized 385,000 fentanyl pills among more than 530 pounds of other illicit drugs since February 1, 2021.

Narcotic agents from the Caldwell County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office arrested three men and seized more than 9 pounds of fentanyl pills (approximately 36,000 pills) hidden under the hood of a 2018 Mercedes Benz.

Police in Payson, Arizona discovered 150,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl during two traffic stops on Thursday, February 19th.

The DEA announced that it had seized approximately 50,000 fentanyl pills in Las Vegas, Nevada.

After a six week law enforcement operation dubbed “Winter is Coming,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in California seized almost 1,000 pounds of narcotics and over 121,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl.

Law enforcement in Bakersfield, California seized 11,000 fentanyl  pills and arrested two men during a drug trafficking investigation.

The Los Angeles, California Police Department arrested a woman in a downtown Los Angeles hotel last month after she allegedly offered to administer counterfeit Botox to undercover officers.

The West Central Ohio Crime Task Force arrested a man in Lima after a search of three residences yielded found suspected cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and meth, plus a fentanyl pill press.

Parents who bought a glow worm for their daughter at a thrift store in El Mirage, Arizona found that it contained a sandwich bag with over 5,000 suspected fentanyl pills.

— Dave Faherty (@FahertyWSOC9) February 15, 2021

PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.

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Counterfeit Medicine News for the week of February 8, 2021

February 17, 2021
Posted in , , ,
Pills in a blue bottle

Counterfeit Medicine News for February 8, 2021

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

Boxes of counterfeit masks seized in Queens, New York  (Source: Queens District Attorney’s Office)

Homeland Security Investigations announced the investigation of a large counterfeit N95 mask operation which sold fake 3M masks to hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies in at least five states.

Authorities discovered 1.7 million counterfeit N95 masks in a warehouse in Queens, New York.

A New Jersey company filed suit against a cosmetics company in Charleston, South Carolina that allegedly sold hundreds of thousands of fake protective face masks for medical professionals, falsely claiming that they were approved by federal regulators.

Three Baltimore, Maryland men have been charged with wire fraud after they allegedly created a replica of Moderna’s website to collect payments from COVID-19 vaccine buyers.

Counterfeit News:

In partnership with three domain name registries, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) disabled nearly 30 websites selling opioid medicines illegally.


A federal judge in the Eastern District of Washington sentenced Spokane resident Todd Earl Bridges to more than 15 years in prison for trafficking methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl-laced pills in the Spokane area.

A state jury in Colorado indicted 64 people for their roles in a drug trafficking operation with ties to Mexico. Over the course of the investigation, which began in 2019, state, federal and local law enforcement seized 77,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl as well as large quantities of cocaine and heroin.

A federal jury in the Eastern District of California has indicted a Sacramento man after law enforcement officers found thousands of counterfeit fentanyl pills in his home.

A Michigan man was arrested after law enforcement found 2,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl and tens of thousands of dollars in his Bismarck, North Dakota hotel room last month.

Fullerton, California resident Nam Hyun Lee received a four-year prison sentence for illegally importing bulk quantities of erectile dysfunction drugs and using them to manufacture “herbal” supplements that were distributed to liquor, gas and convenience stores across the United States.


Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers found $45,000 worth of suspected fentanyl pills during a traffic stop in Richland County.  Law enforcement also made pill seizures in Queens, New York and  Rochester, Minnesota.

Customs and Border Protection agents in Cincinnati, Ohio intercepted 580 bottles of Viagra pills and 43 boxes of honey laced with sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, being illegally imported from Turkey to Missouri.

Warnings and Deaths:

In Santa Monica, California, 16-year-old Samuel Chapman died of fentanyl poisoning after he took a counterfeit pill he had acquired via Snapchat.

The families of Lea Marie Montgomery in Oklahoma City, Hannah Cupp in Prescott Valley, Arizona spoke about their daughters, both of whom were killed by  counterfeit pills in 2020.

Law enforcement in Greenville, South Carolina seized thousands of counterfeit Xanax pills made of clonazolam. The fakes have killed multiple people in the state, including a man in Greer who used pill presses to manufacture them.

Officials in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Fresno, California, and Boulder, Colorado warned about a spike in the  availability of counterfeit pills made with fentanyl.

Fake Xanax pills confiscated in Greenville, South Carolina in December 2020

PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.

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ED-Marketed Dietary Supplement Recalled Due to Presence of Prescription Drugs

February 15, 2021
Posted in ,

This is a reprint of an FDA Alert. Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 1500 and 3000 Capsules Due to Presence of Undeclared Sildenafil and/or Tadalafil

When a company announces a recall, market withdrawal, or safety alert, the FDA posts the company’s announcement as a public service. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.


February 15, 2021

Company Contact Information

Company Announcement is voluntarily recalling all lots within expiry of Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 1500 and Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 3000 capsules to the consumer level. This recall has been initiated after an FDA laboratory analysis found the product to contain undeclared sildenafil and/or tadalafil. Sildenafil and tadalafil are ingredients in FDA approved products for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction in the family of drugs known as phosphodiesterase (PDE-5) inhibitors. The presence of sildenafil and/or tadalafil in Adam’s Secret Extra Strength products makes them unapproved new drugs for which the safety and efficacy have not been established and therefore subject to recall.

To date, has not received any reports of adverse events related to this recall.

Consumers with underlying medical issues who take Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 1500 or Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 3000 capsules with undeclared sildenafil and tadalafil may experience serious health risks. For example, PDE-5 inhibitors may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin) lowering blood pressure to dangerous levels that may be life-threatening. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease often take nitrates.

The product is marketed as a dietary supplement for male sexual enhancement and is packaged in blister foil sheets and a box containing 10 capsules. Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 1500 and 3000 were distributed via internet at nationwide in the USA. is notifying its customers by email and is arranging for return of all recalled products. Consumers that have Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 1500 or 3000, which is being recalled should stop using and return to place of purchase. Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact by e-mail address or mail at: 29-31 Industrial Ave. Fairview, NJ 07022.

Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using these drug products.

Adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of this product may be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.

  • Complete and submit the report Online
  • Regular Mail or Fax: Download form or call 1- 800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Legislative tracking for Canadian drug importation

February 12, 2021

Canadian Drug Importation in the states

No matter how many times Canada says no, well-meaning but misguided advocates keep pushing states to implement expensive foreign drug importation schemes that are impossible to do safely and cheaply. To learn more about the patient safety dangers and financial flaws in importation schemes, watch our video at the right.

Current bills in state legislatures (updated February 24, 2021)

States who passed legislation and are in some phase of implementation

When states begin to implement drug importation we dedicate a tracking page to them.

States actively implementing importation: Colorado, Florida, New Mexico.

States whose implementations have stalled: Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont.

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Counterfeit Medicine News for the week of February 1, 2021

February 8, 2021
Posted in , , ,
Counterfeit Tevo Oxycocet bottles

Counterfeit Medicine News for February 1, 2021

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

People around the world want to get their coronavirus vaccines, and COVID-19 scammers are on top of it.  Watch our video to learn about the kinds of vaccine fraud we’re seeing.

Between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents seized nearly 13 million counterfeit face masks, 177,000 fake or unapproved test kits and 38,000 chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine tablets that were barred by the FDA.

A federal grand jury indicted a Missouri state legislator on fraud charges for allegedly marketing a fraudulent stem cell treatment as a treatment for various diseases, including COVID-19. The allegations also include the distribution of oxycodone and Adderall over the internet without valid prescriptions and making false statements to federal agents.

The Washington State Hospital Association learned  from mask-maker 3M that at least some of the 300,000 N95 masks it had distributed to hospitals were counterfeit.

The Food and Drug Administration warned three online sellers of hydroxychloroquine to stop making false claims that the medicine treats or prevents COVID-19.

After a man offered to sell “extra” Pfizer vaccine for $500 on a local message board, Washington D.C. police warned the public to beware of scammers defrauding people by selling COVID-19 vaccines.

Robert S. Stewart, Jr of Arlington, Virginia pleaded guilty to making false statements to multiple federal agencies to obtain more than $40 million in government contracts he did not fulfill, and receive more than $330,000 in COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and military service benefits.

Forgery rings selling fraudulent COVID-19 test certificates to travellers have been discovered in France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Mexico.

The police in China arrested 80 people for their alleged roles in a counterfeiting ring that manufactured and sold more than 3,000 fake coronavirus vaccines across the country.

Counterfeit News:


After pleading guilty in August 2020, Saybyn Borges of Reno, Nevada received a 10-year-and-one-month prison sentence for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. He sold undercover agents  almost 7500 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl in 2018.

A Federal court in Manhattan, New York charged two men with conspiring to import two tons of methamphetamine and 100,000 fentanyl pills into the United States. The drugs were intercepted in Sinaloa, Mexico by the Mexican Navy on January 29, 2021.

Law enforcement in New Jersey and New York dismantled a narcotics trafficking network, arresting 20 people and seizing over 800 grams of fentanyl pills and more than 14,500 grams of other illicit drugs.

The Morgan County, Georgia Sheriff’s Drug Enforcement Unit is seeking a man in Decatur, after it found illicit drugs, a pill press, and other drug paraphernalia in his home.

Police in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania charged a second man with providing the fake Percocet that killed Isaiah Cruz, who died of fentanyl poisoning in December 2019.

In Poland, police shut down a counterfeit medicine ring that distributed tens of millions of counterfeit cancer and psychiatric drugs, as well as anabolic steroids and products for erectile dysfunction to customers in Europe and the United States.

Fentanyl pills seized by the Mexican Navy before they entered the U.S., January 2021 (Source: USAO-SDNY)


The Niagara Regional Police Service Major Drug and Gang Unit seized 400lbs of an unknown powder, an industrial pill press, and 20,000 fentanyl pills in realistic-looking Teva-Oxycocet bottles just over the Canadian border in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The seizure closely resembles another Ontario seizure from June 2020.

In Marion County, Tennessee, the 12th Judicial Drug Task Force seized hundreds of counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl when a dealer tried to deliver them to a person in Kimball.

CBP at Chicago O’Hare International Airport seized nine pounds of sildenafil citrate tablets from a passenger returning from a trip to India who said he had planned to share them with friends.

Learn more about the Niagara Regional Police Service’s recent fake pill factory bust.

Warnings and Deaths:

Authorities in Burlington, Washington warned that four residents had suffered from fentanyl poisoning after taking counterfeit pills. Although all of them survived, two men, aged 26 and 61, were transported to the hospital for treatment. 

A 16-year-old in Bellingham, Washington died after she took counterfeit Percocet made with fentanyl.

According to the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington, as of December 2020, 89% of police-confiscated fentanyl in Washington State is in tablet form.

In Minnesota, police in Rochester and Roseville announced that four people died of fentanyl poisoning after taking counterfeit opioid painkillers. 

Officials in Boulder County, Colorado issued a warning about fentanyl in street drugs, including counterfeit Xanax.

PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.

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RAND finds unbranded generics cheaper in the U.S. than in 32 other countries.

February 1, 2021
Posted in ,
Tweet about Rand Report

RAND Finds Unbranded Generics Cheaper In The U.S. Than In 32 Other Countries.

Shabbir Imber Safdar is the Executive Director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines.

In 2019, the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency hired the RAND Corporation to do a study comparing drug prices around the world to U.S. prices. Getting accurate prices for medicine in the U.S. is a real challenge, because the published “list price” is not the actual price a health insurance company pays for medication.

What insurers actually pay is the price they negotiate minus the rebate they get from a manufacturer-and a lot of that is never made public.

So from the start that’s a problematic way to conduct research. The RAND Corporation  noted that in the study, and then did the project anyway, which makes it kind of worthless.

They did, however, do a decent piece of research into costs of unbranded generics.

Unbranded generics make up 85% of the medicine dispensed in the U.S., so it’s a big part of our cost equation. What RAND found was that we pay 16% less than other countries in the OECD for unbranded generics.

Shouldn’t that be big news?  Shouldn’t U.S. politicians be trying to figure out how to make the U.S. generics market as healthy as possible?

Read the entire tweet thread: 

— Shabbir Safdar (@ShabbirSafdar) January 29, 2021
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Counterfeit Medicine News for the week of January 25, 2021

February 1, 2021
Posted in , , ,
ad selling N95 masks

Counterfeit Medicine News for January 25, 2021

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

Learn more about ongoing problems with hand sanitizer safety since the pandemic began

United States

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed all alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico on a countrywide import alert. There has been a sharp increase in methanol contamination in hand sanitizer products from Mexico since the start of the pandemic. Watch our video about recalled hand sanitizers to learn more about the problem.

Denver-based Nationwide Medical Supply will pay $70,000 after it marked up mask and respirator prices to more than 250% of its cost, mislabeled a KN95 mask as an N95 respirator and falsely claimed its products were FDA approved.

3M has filed suit against a Del Ray, Florida business that allegedly sold counterfeit N95 masks to a hospital in Minnesota.

Authorities in Colorado, Nevada, and South Carolina warned residents to beware of COVID-19 vaccine scams.


Ecuadorian police shut down an alternative medicines center in Quito that administered thousands of fake COVID-19 vaccines made of an unknown substance.

Mexican regulators reported a surge of COVID-19 related fraud, chiefly in the form of scammers collecting payments for coronavirus-related medical products such as oxygen tanks, steroids, tests and vaccines.

In November 2020, law enforcement in South Africa confiscated 400 vials of unregistered COVID-19 vaccines which had been mislabeled as cosmetic injections when they were shipped from Singapore.

Counterfeit News:

In Sacramento, California, a federal grand jury indicted 10 men who allegedly sold tens of thousands of fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl, as well as cocaine and methamphetamine, despite knowing their products were killing people.

A federal grand jury in Cleveland, Ohio indicted two Kirtland men for drug trafficking after agents found a meth lab, a pill press, a kilo of meth, and other drugs  from a residence they used

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agents in Norman arrested a man after a search of a home yielded more than 4,000 suspected counterfeit pills, and large quantities of other illicit drugs.

Customs and Border Protection officers in Louisville, Kentucky seized two shipments containing more than 18,500 illegally imported Viagra pills on their way to an individual in Burton, Michigan.

Law enforcement in Idaho seized 7.3 grams of fentanyl pills, as well as other drugs, during a traffic stop in the Lewis Clark Valley.

Officers found 646 grams of suspected fentanyl, a pill press, and numerous round blue pills in a home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Police in Clinton County, New York warned that counterfeit oxycodone was circulating in the area.

All 50 states have reported counterfeit pills made with fentanyl, October 2020

As of 2020, fake pills have been found in all 50 states. Read about some of the victims and see the situation in your state.

PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.

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FDA Puts All Mexico-Produced Hand Sanitizers on Import Alert

January 26, 2021
Posted in ,

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed all hand sanitizers manufactured in Mexico on import alert. Watch Hundreds of Recalls to learn why the FDA are taking this action.

This is a reprint of an FDA Alert.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Takes Action to Place All Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers from Mexico on Import Alert to Help Prevent Entry of Violative and Potentially Dangerous Products into U.S., Protect U.S. Consumers

For Immediate Release:

As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s continuing efforts to protect consumers from potentially dangerous or subpotent hand sanitizers, the agency has placed all alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico on a countrywide import alert to help stop products that appear to be in violation from entering the U.S. until the agency is able to review the products’ safety. Over the course of the ongoing pandemic, the agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products from Mexico that were labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested. Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient in hand sanitizer or other drugs.

Under the import alert, alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico offered for import are subject to heightened FDA scrutiny, and FDA staff may detain the shipment. As part of their entry review, FDA staff will consider any specific evidence offered by importers or manufacturers that the hand sanitizers were manufactured according to U.S. current good manufacturing practice requirements. This marks the first time the FDA has issued a countrywide import alert for any category of drug product.

“Consumer use of hand sanitizers has increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, especially when soap and water are not accessible, and the availability of poor-quality products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients will not be tolerated,” said Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs. “Today’s actions are necessary to protect the safe supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. We will continue to work with our stakeholders to ensure the availability of safe products and to communicate vital information with the health and safety of U.S. consumers in mind.”

The FDA’s analyses of alcohol-based hand sanitizers imported from Mexico found 84% of the samples analyzed by the agency from April through December 2020 were not in compliance with the FDA’s regulations. More than half of the samples were found to contain toxic ingredients, including methanol and/or 1-propanol, at dangerous levels. The agency has posted and regularly updates a list of hand sanitizer products that consumers should not use, which include those that FDA has found to contain methanol and/or 1-propanol. In most cases, methanol does not appear as an ingredient on the product label.

The agency continues to take action to help prevent potentially dangerous or violative hand sanitizers from entering the United States by placing specific products on import alert, proactively working with companies to recall products and encouraging retailers to remove violative products from store shelves and online marketplaces. As part of these actions, the agency has also issued 14 warning letters since July 2020 for distributing hand sanitizer with undeclared methanol, inappropriate ethanol content, misleading claims-including incorrectly stating FDA approval-and  improper manufacturing practices. The FDA continues to proactively work with Mexican government authorities, manufacturers and retailers to ensure potentially dangerous or violative products are not distributed to consumers.

The agency reminds manufacturers, distributors, repackagers and importers they are responsible for the quality of their products and urges manufacturers to test their raw ingredients to ensure they meet labeling specifications and are free from harmful contamination. The FDA recently issued a guidance outlining the agency’s policy for drug manufacturers and compounders to test alcohol or isopropyl alcohol for methanol contamination prior to using the alcohol to produce drugs, including hand sanitizer products.

Methanol-contaminated hand sanitizers are a serious safety concern, and the FDA is aware of adverse events, including blindness, cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system and hospitalizations and death, primarily reported to poison control centers and state departments of health. Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol substitute are most at risk.

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer contaminated with methanol and are experiencing symptoms should contact their local poison control center and seek immediate medical treatment for potential reversal of the toxic effects of methanol poisoning. The FDA encourages health care professionals, consumers and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (please provide the agency with as much information to identify the product as possible). For more information, consumers should refer to the FDA’s guidelines on safe use of hand sanitizer as well as a question and answer page.

Need help now? Call 9-1-1 if the person is unconscious or has trouble breathing. Call Poison Help at 800-222-1222  to connect to your local poison center. Learn more at

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.


 Jeremy Kahn
 (301) 796-8671
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Hundreds of Recalls: Methanol-Contaminated Hand Sanitizer

January 25, 2021
Posted in , ,

Hundreds of Recalls: Methanol-Contaminated Hand Sanitizer

The Partnership for Safe Medicines takes U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warnings  about counterfeit medicines and medical devices seriously.  When the first FDA alerts warning of methanol-contaminated hand sanitizers brands Blumen and Saniderm emerged, we reported them through our FDA alert system. (You can sign up to receive those alerts here. ) Within weeks however, this trickle of hand sanitizer recalls turned into a flood.  

Sign up so that PSM can keep you up to date about FDA alerts.

Methanol-laced hand sanitizers, like other #covidscams, have followed the spread of COVID-19 in a predictable pattern. Wherever scammers and counterfeiters saw an opportunity to make money off the pandemic, they took it. Reports of dangerous, contaminated hand sanitizer started appearing within three months of the first reports of coronavirus in the United States.

As of January 1, 2021, 225 different hand sanitizer brands representing hundreds of different hand sanitizers have been recalled by the FDA for containing deadly methanol. In May and June the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that four people were dead and another 26 had been hospitalized due to ingesting hand sanitizer made with methanol. Deaths were reported in Arizona, New Mexico, and South Dakota

The FDA has provided an easy-to-understand consumer update on how to tell if your hand sanitizer has been recalled.  You can also avoid methanol-contaminated hand sanitizer by the simple expedient of washing your hands. Children are particularly vulnerable to methanol poisoning, so please, help your kids take a cue from the Singing Walrus and the Baby Shark: washing your hands is easy.

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Counterfeit Medicine News for the week of January 18, 2021

January 25, 2021
Posted in , , ,

Counterfeit Medicine News for January 18, 2021

COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:

Learn more about Stine in our weekly video.

Johnny Stine, of Seattle, Washington, who first came to public attention in March 2020 when he tried to sell his own untested “COVID-19 vaccine,” was arrested and charged on January 21st after one of the people he injected was hospitalized with the coronavirus.

The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division warned  taxpayers to beware of a new wave of COVID-19-related scams, including text messages and phishing schemes; fake cures, vaccines, pills, and medical advice; fake donation requests and fraudulent opportunities to invest in companies developing vaccines. Authorities in California also warned residents to be alert to scams related to COVID-19 vaccines.

Software firm Check Point reported that sales of fake COVID-19 vaccines on the dark web have grown 400% since December 2020.

A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania man has been charged with stealing more than $700,000 from two New York City companies by falsely promising to sell them medical gowns from a factory in China.

The state of Ohio is investigating 796,000 claims for unemployment that were flagged to be investigated for potential fraud.

Counterfeit News:


John Frank Naber III of Oldham County, Kentucky received an 11-year prison sentence for manufacturing and selling counterfeit Adderall made with methamphetamine on the dark web.

In Rock Hill, South Carolina, Fate Thomas McClurkin Jr.  received a 12-year sentence in federal prison for his role in a drug trafficking operation that sold tens of thousands of fake Roxicodone pills that were made with fentanyl.

Overseas, police in Mumbai, India arrested five people for their roles in the sale of fake Johnson & Johnson sutures.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Minneapolis seized more than 40,000 prescription pills-antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and analgesics-illegally shipped from Laos.

Federal postal inspectors in Anchorage, Alaska intercepted 2.4 ounces of blue “M30” pills that contained fentanyl on their way to Utqiagvik from Arizona. The pills were hidden in the motor housing of an Oster blender, which was in its original packaging.

Law enforcement seized three-and-a-half pounds of suspected counterfeit fentanyl pills as part of a larger drug bust in Owensboro, Kentucky.


Authorities in Fargo and Jamestown, North Dakota warned about counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl circulating in the area.

The Medical Examiner’s Office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, too, warned about the prevalence of counterfeit fentanyl pills in the area, citing the recent death of a man who had taken them.


Counterfeit ADHD medicine made with methamphetamine is a rising problem across the country. Learn more here.

PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.

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