Dangerous Counterfeit Cancer Drug Found in US

Fake Avastin missing active ingredient
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2012 12:30 AM CST
Updated Feb 15, 2012 7:44 AM CST
Dangerous Counterfeit Cancer Drug Found in US
This photo provided by Roche's Genentech unit shows a counterfeit vial of the cancer drug Avastin.    (AP Photo/Genetech)

A fake version of best-selling anti-cancer drug Avastin has been found in the US. Swiss drugmaker Roche has warned doctors and hospitals to be on the lookout for the counterfeit medication, which lacks the intravenous drug's active ingredient, the Wall Street Journal reports. Samples of the fake drug are still being analyzed, but "it's not Avastin, it's not safe and effective, and it shouldn't be used," warns a company spokeswoman.

The fake drug was found in 400-milligram vials, which sell for $2,400. "It's an infused medicine, and not something a patient would have in their hands, so it's really health-care providers who should be on the lookout," the spokeswoman says. The company believes the fake drug was imported from abroad. In a related action, the FDA has contacted 19 medical practices, mostly in California, that may have purchased unapproved drugs from a foreign supply company. (More cancer stories.)

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