More Fake Cancer Drugs Found In The U.S. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

More Fake Cancer Drugs Found In The U.S.

Another batch of phony cancer drugs has made its way into the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says.

U.S.-based medical practices purchased vials of counterfeit medicine labeled as Altuzan from a foreign supplier, FDA spokesperson Shelly Burgess tells Shots. She said the agency doesn't have any reports of patients having received the counterfeit drugs.

Altuzan is the Turkish brand name for Avastin, the FDA-approved blockbuster cancer drug from Swiss drugmaker Roche's Genentech unit. Altuzan is approved for use in Turkey — but not in the U.S.

The shipments came from Richards Pharma, a foreign supplier also known by the names Richards Services, Warwick Healthcare Solutions and Ban Dune Marketing, according to an FDA statement. Lab tests confirmed March 15 that the vials contained none of the active ingredient in Altuzan, Burgess says.

Packaging or vials found in the U.S. that claim to be Roche's Altuzan with lot number B6021 should be considered counterfeit, the FDA statement says.

As Richard Knox reported in Shots, counterfeit Avastin turned up in the U.S. in February. More than a dozen specialists in Illinois, California and Texas were thought to have bought it. Avastin, or bevacizumab, is approved to treat colorectal, lung, kidney and brain cancer.

Avastin is expensive — a 400-milligram vial costs $2,400, and sales of the drug totaled more than $2.5 billion last year.

Fake versions of diet drugs, the cholesterol drug Lipitor and the flu medication Tamiflu also have turned up in the U.S. in the past.

"In the past three months, we've notified health care providers about the risk of purchasing unapproved injectable cancer medications from unlicensed sources," Burgess says. "This is a practice that has to stop."

She says health care providers or patients who think they have received counterfeit drugs should report it to the FDA's MedWatch safety program.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Typewriters, Underwater Hotels And Picture Phones: The Future, As Seen From 1964

The 1964 World's Fair showcased jet packs and other miracles of science. Here's how people back then thought the future would look (and how it actually turned out).
NPR

No. 1 Most Expensive Coffee Comes From Elephant's No. 2

A coffee entrepreneur claims his brew is different — and better — than the trendy civet poop coffee. And it starts with the idea that elephants, unlike humans or civets, are herbivores.
WAMU 88.5

Maureen McDonnell Didn't Give Special Treatment To Star Scientific, Witness Testifies

A defense witness in the corruption trail against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, says the former first lady often traveled the state promoting state businesses, countering the notion she gave special treatment to the company at the heart of the corruption trial.
NPR

The Momentum Of The Ice Bucket Challenge — And What It Means For ALS

A recent fundraising challenge has gone viral on social media, calling attention to research into Lou Gehrig's disease. Forbes contributor Dan Diamond discusses the state of that research.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.