More FDA reports of counterfeit anti-cancer drug Avastin
April 5, 2012
The appearance in the U.S. of a counterfeit—and medically useless—version of the anti-cancer drug Avastin seems to be spreading. In a Safety Information Alert, issued on Tuesday, April 3, the Federal Drug Administration announced that it has uncovered fake injectable vials of Bevacizumab, marketed in the U.S. as Avastin. The counterfeit drug, the FDA stated, which was found at unnamed “medical practices”, was said to contain “no active ingredient,” and carried the brand name used for Avastin in Turkey: Altuzan.
The Tuesday announcement stated that “packaging or vials found in the U.S. that claim to be Roche’s Altuzan with lot number B6021 should be considered counterfeit.”
The fake drugs were imported into the U.S. by a company called Richards Pharma, also known as Richards Services, Warwick Healthcare Solutions, or Ban Dune Marketing Inc (BDMI). Importing Avastin is itself illegal, since the FDA allows only U.S.-manufactured Avastin to be sold in the country. (Genentech is the current producer in the U.S.) Speaking of the importer of the fake drug, the FDA stated: “Many, if not all, of the products sold and distributed through this distributor have not been approved by the FDA.”
Only two months ago, authorities revealed that a fake version of Avastin had been found at nineteen medical practices in the United States, citing a different distributor. In that case , the counterfeit version contained starch, salt, and in some cases, acetone. The latter is a solvent often used in nail polish remover. That time, a company calling itself Montana Healthcare Solutions was identified as the source of the illegally imported drug. CBS News interviewed the owner of Montana Healthcare Solutions at a residence in Barbados.
Doctors use Bevacizumab (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.