Almost as if on cue, as the United States ramps up testing and containment measures, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced its first seizure of counterfeit COVID-19 test kits at the Los Angeles Airport International Mail Facility. The seizure took place on March 12 and involved vials which had been manifested as innocuous purified water vials. However, upon closer examination, the vials bore labels which included language identifying them as corona virus test kits.
It is unfortunate that the most trying of times still bring out the worst in people willing to risk public health and safety to make money trading on fear. There are no magic beans and currently no publicly available test kit for the virus. Whether these tests were going to be peddled online or enter into the public health system is unknown. However, it is clear that vigilance is necessary to prevent counterfeit test kits and pharmaceuticals from entering the stream of commerce and use. Consumers should not be shocked at a seizure like this one. Counterfeit pharmaceutical products are an unfortunate development that impact all levels of society. And, admittedly, sometimes we may chuckle at the stories of counterfeit erectile dysfunction products, but these fall into the same category as counterfeit cough syrup, anti-malarials, cancer treatments and blood thinners (and the list goes on). Counterfeit pharmaceuticals have deadly consequences wherever they are unleashed.
The fact that the seizure took place at an international mail facility should not come as a surprise. Producers and shippers based overseas have, for years, exploited low shipping rates and sheer volume of small parcels to overwhelm the system. We are fortunate to have CBP Officers at the ports, courier hubs and mail facilities dedicating their efforts to stem the flow of dangerous counterfeits entering the country. However, with the constant increase in e-commerce orders and fulfillment, there is also a part all of us can play in protecting the health and safety of our communities.
Best Practices for Protecting Against Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Products
With only a relatively small percentage of imported goods actually targeted and inspected, we have to do our part as well.
- Be careful what you order. The FDA has a strong system in place to test and approve a variety of health related products. Do not fall for online panaceas and promises.
- Check where the seller is located. A large percentage of seized counterfeit goods originate in China. The old adage “Location, location, location” is very relevant.
- Watch those prices. No one will be so altruistic as to offer goods for a miniscule percentage of cost or value.
- Shop smart. Before you place an order for pharmaceuticals that are normally only available with a prescription, ask why on earth would they be available online without a doctor’s approval.
We all have a role to play in maintaining the integrity of health tools needed to combat this pandemic. Make smart choices to prevent counterfeits from impacting the health and safety of your community.
If you have any questions about this alert, please contact your Gibney representative or email email@example.com.