U.S. Customs and Border Protection seize counterfeit, unapproved COVID-19 meds and PPE

Customs and Border Protection seizes Ohio immigrant family's life savings at airport
Posted at 11:34 AM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 12:03:23-04

BALTIMORE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday recovered packages of counterfeit and unapproved coronavirus medication at the Port of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania.

A shipment of 1,200 Linhua Qingwen capsules arrived at the port from Hong Kong. The capsules are used to treat some COVID-19 patients, but their effectiveness is unknown and they have not been approved for use in the United States. The shipment was headed to Union County, Pennsylvania.

Since March 23, agents at the Area Ports of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, and the Ports of Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, made 18 seizures including:

  • more than 1,350 unapproved and counterfeit COVID-19 test kits;
  • nearly 400 counterfeit N95 respirator masks;
  • nearly 2,500 unapproved and potentially counterfeit medicines, including Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate, Chloroquine, Azithromycin, Lianhua Qingwen and Liushen Jiaonang; and
  • more than 67,000 counterfeit ACCU-CHEK test strips.

The products were shipped from manufacturers and distributors in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Senegal, Germany and the United Kingdom and were destined to addresses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Connecticut, and Florida.

None of the products or manufacturers have been authorized in the United States and are in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, according to Customs and Border Protection.

Many individual cases are still under investigation, so details haven't been released.

“Panic-stricken consumers and predatory scammers continue to purchase coronavirus protective and diagnostic equipment, and pharmaceuticals from the overseas marketplace that are either counterfeit or unapproved for use in the United States, and that pose a potentially serious health concern for American consumers,” said Ronald Stanley, CBP’s Acting Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. “Customs and Border Protection will continue to work with our partners at the Food and Drug Administration to identify and seize these potentially hazardous medical products before they could harm American consumers.”