Counterfeit anti-cancer drug Avastin contained salt and acetone--owner claims he knew nothing Video >>
March 21, 2012
The owner of a company which sold a counterfeited cancer drug, Avastin, to nineteen doctors and clinics in the United States claims the news is “shocking an disappointing.” Speaking from the Caribbean nation of Barbados, the man told CBS news "Because you buy these products through a regulated supply chain, you have to have faith."
The drug, which some researchers say “may change survival” for colon, lung, and rectal cancer victims, can only be sold in the United States by Genetech, at its U.S. facilities. But CBS news discovered that the fake drug was imported from abroad by a company called Montana Healthcare Solutions, from a company with the same name in the United Kingdom. Before reaching the U,K., in turn, it had traveled through Denmark and Switzerland. The drug sold here for about $2000, about $400 less than the manufacturer’s quoted price.
Reporter Armen Keteyian followed the drug’s trail back to a tough neighborhood outside Cairo, back to Turkey and beyond.
Doctors use Avastin in combination with other chemotherapy to extend lives and quality of life for a large number of patients suffering from some of the most vicious of cancers. The counterfeit vials, of which 36 found their way into U.S. medical practices, mostly contained nothing but starch, salt, and in some cases, acetone. The latter is a solvent often used in nail polish remover. At the very least, patients were receiving no therapy, when effective medications were a lifeline.
The owner of Montana Healthcare Solutions told CBS:
"I have nothing to hide. The businesses I have are ethical, safe and legal."
"You talk about safety," Keteyian said, "but according to you, 36 packets of the fake Avastin got into the U.S. to at least 19 clinics, into the hands of doctors and potentially patients, so how can it be so safe?"
"Because we followed protocol."
Said Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. "Counterfeit drugs is a huge problem in the United States. The estimates are that $75 billion worth of sales of counterfeit drugs occur annually."