EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Customs officers seized tens of thousands of capsules of a Chinese medication falsely advertised as a treatment for COVID-19.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized three parcels of Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang on Tuesday at the International Mail Facility at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Each box contained 9,600 capsules for a total of 28,800 capsules and a total domestic value of $28,797, according to a news release.
All of the shipments originated from China.
The medication is known to have been used to treat some COVID-19 patients in China and other countries. But its effectiveness is unknown and it remains an unapproved medicine for use in the United States.
According to the National Library of Medicine, this particular Chinese medicine “is known to treat complex diseases with multiple components and multiple targets. However, the main effective components and their related key targets and functions remain to be identified.”
The shipment of pills violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), which prohibits the introduction of any food, drug, device, tobacco product, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded. In this case, the pills were misbranded. They were turned over to the FDA Office of Criminal Investigation.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health. “The FDA is particularly concerned that products that claim to cure, treat or prevent serious diseases like COVID-19 may cause consumers to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm,” the release said.
“A seizure of this quantity is significant because it protects the American people,” CBP Supervisory Officer Lesley Lukens said in a statement. “The dangers of these capsules is catastrophic. It gives consumers a false sense of security, and the consumption of any medication without consulting your medical provider can be fatal.”
On Thursday, CBP officials said they seized 360 pills of Lianhua Qingwen at the Port of Seattle. CBP spokesman Jason Givens said the package was arriving from Canada when it was seized Wednesday.
On May 5, CBP officers at the Port of Harrisburg, Pa., seized a shipment of 1,200 capsules from Hong Kong.