CBP seizes shipments of illegal PPE, COVID-19 pharmaceuticals

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Ports of Entry working within the Baltimore Field Office seized several shipments of counterfeit and unapproved coronavirus personal protective equipment (PPE) and pharmaceuticals.

Since March 23, CBP officers at the ports in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Harrisburg and Pittsburgh have completed 18 seizures that included 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.

Most recently, CBP officers at the Port of Harrisburg seized a shipment of 1,200 Linhua Qingwen capsules that arrived from Hong Kong. Linhua Qingwen capsules are being used to treat some COVID-19 patients, but their effectiveness is unknown, and they are unapproved medicine for use in the United States. The package was destined for an address in Union County, Pa.

Also, CBP officers seized 354 counterfeit N95 respirator masks on April 10 at the Area Port of Washington Dulles. These products are not on the current Emergency Use Authorization List, and the manufacturers were not on the FDA’s approved list. Thus, they are inadmissible to the United States and are in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

“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,” Ronald Stanley, CBP’s acting director of field operations in Baltimore, said. “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.”

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

Dave Kovaleski

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