Counterfeit Drugs Harm Real People

We're Collecting Their Stories

Protecting the safety of America's drug supply is about protecting human life. When we compromise the security of America's drug supply, we endanger patients. Sometimes people forget that these policy debates affect real people, but we at PSM never do.

Below you will find the stories of patients and family members that have been victims of a weakened drug supply chain. 
 Note: The patients and family members who appear on this page have not been compensated by PSM for appearing here.

Counterfeit Pill Takes the Life of a Hardworking College Graduate

June 9, 2020

24-year-old Travis Jacobson was excited about an upcoming job interview. Recently graduated from Sacramento State University, he moved to Los Angeles to live with his best friend Landon and launch a career in public relations. Sadly, Travis never made it to that interview. Wanting a good night’s sleep beforehand, he took a Xanax pill that turned out to be a fake made with fentanyl, and it took his life.

Young man in letter jacket standing in front a wall, wrestling boots, badge and medal alongside him

Life Cut Short for an All-American Kid

May 21, 2020

22-year-old West Haven, Utah resident Jaydon Rogers was an “all-American-kid.” A champion high school wrestler, he had tremendous enthusiasm for all kinds of sports, his family and life. Jaydon died of fentanyl poisoning on March 14, 2018 after he unknowingly took a counterfeit pill.

Rock Roberts opening the Senate briefing

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

March 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)…

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.

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.

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.

An Epidemic Began with 14 Deaths in Sacramento

September 12, 2018

In a brutal month spanning March 23 to April 23, 2016, fourteen people in the Sacramento area died of suspected drug overdoses, and 38 others were poisoned. At the beginning authorities had no idea why there was a sudden spike in overdose deaths and suspected “contaminated drugs.” They would not know until the month was out and the recovered pills had been analyzed that these deaths were caused by counterfeit pills made with deadly fentanyl. One of those who was lost was a 28-year-old father of three, Jerome Butler.

Robbie Took Just One Counterfeit Xanax With Tragic Consequences

July 2, 2018

The evening of November 29, 2016, Atlanta-area realtor Jennifer Bryant Hodge came home to find her 23-year-old son Robbie collapsed in the bathroom. EMTs rushed Robbie to the hospital, where he was declared brain dead. Hodge would learn that her son had taken a counterfeit Xanax that contained a fatal dose of benzodiazepines.

In Florida, a beloved wife, sister, daughter, aunt was felled by fake oxycodone

May 31, 2018

Maggie Crowley managed an Outback in Royal Palm Beach, Florida until September 1, 2016, when she was killed by a counterfeit painkiller she got from a coworker. Almost two years later, her close-knit family is still reeling from the loss.

Counterfeit Pill Made With Fentanyl Killed Young Father-To-Be

December 4, 2017

23-year-old Joe Patterson was a hard worker and a student, an expectant father and a beloved son. On February 15, 2015, he died after taking a painkiller he didn’t know was a counterfeit made with fentanyl.

Young Californian Dies After Accidentally Taking Counterfeit Xanax Made with Fentanyl

September 27, 2017

The evening of October 26, 2015, twenty-nine-year-old Aptos, California resident Tosh Ackerman took a benedryl and part of a Xanax pill to help him sleep. He never woke up, and his girlfriend found him dead the next day. Ackerman died because the Xanax he took was counterfeit. It contained a fatal dose of a powerful synthetic opioid called fentanyl.

Betty Hunter’s Death Illustrates Danger of Fake Drugs

February 2, 2017

Arizona resident Betty Hunter died of lung cancer, but how much longer would she have lived if her oncologist had not treated her with counterfeit Avastin? A recent Danish documentary tells the tragic story of Arizona grandmother Betty Hunter, who in 2011 sought treatment for her lung cancer at an oncology clinic in Chandler Arizona.…

Drugs purchased from a legitimate-looking online pharmacy killed an American ExPat

January 29, 2013

Marcia Bergeron died in British Columbia in December 2006 from heavy metal poisoning caused by the prescription medications she had purchased from a fake online pharmacy. Friends and family were shocked, because Marcia’s health was robust, and she thought she was suffering from the common flu.

Read Counterfeit Drug News That Mentions Patient Harm:

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

March 18, 2020

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

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

October 21, 2019

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

October 17, 2019

Ophthalmologist in Florida Investigated for Using Counterfeit Botox on Patients

October 2, 2019

Deaths from Counterfeit Pills in Alaska, California, and Washington

September 23, 2019

Idaho Doctor Admits Putting Counterfeit Breast Implants from China in Nine Patients

September 19, 2019

San Diego is in the Midst of a Deadly Counterfeit Pill Crisis, with 50 Confirmed Deaths Thus Far

August 6, 2019

Man Charged With Selling Fentanyl Pills That Killed Murray, Utah Woman

July 24, 2019

Peer-reviewed journal article estimates 300,000 child fatalities annually due to counterfeit medication

June 16, 2019

Boyfriend Who Gave His Girlfriend The Counterfeit Pill That Killed Her Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

June 13, 2019

Colorado Mother Works to Raise Awareness About Addiction and Self-Harm

May 8, 2019

Arizona Couple Indicted for Selling Counterfeit Pills Made with Fentanyl, Pills Implicated in Death of Arkansas Man

April 24, 2019

WHO: Counterfeit medicines kill up to 300,000 children each year

April 15, 2019

Black Market Medicines Can Ruin An HIV Patient’s Entire Drug Protocol

April 1, 2019