US warns of new fake batch of cancer drug Avastin

The Food and Drug Administration is warning U.S. doctors about another counterfeit version of the cancer drug Avastin, the third case involving the best-selling Roche drug in the past year.

The FDA said in an online post Tuesday that at least one batch of the drug distributed by a New York company does not contain the active ingredient in real Avastin, which is used to treat cancers of the colon, lung, kidney and brain. The drug was distributed by Medical Device King, which also does business as Pharmalogical. The vials are packaged as Altuzan, the Turkish version of Avastin that is not approved for use in the U.S.

The agency warned doctors in April about a similar case of fake Turkish Avastin distributed by a British firm. Prior to that, the FDA announced in February an investigation into a different batch of fake Avastin distributed to doctors in several states. Both of those cases appeared to involve different networks of distributors than the latest incident.

The FDA said it's currently unclear whether any U.S. patients have received the drug. Specifically, Altuzan labeled with the lot numbers B6022B01 and B6024B01 may be counterfeit. Importing even authentic Altuzan into the U.S. is illegal, since the FDA has only reviewed Avastin as safe and effective.

The agency is asking doctors to stop using any products from Medical Device King, Pharmalogical or Taranis Medical, another affiliated business.

A telephone number listed on Medical Device King's website was not in service. Company representatives did not immediately respond to emails sent Wednesday.

Roche's Genentech unit sells Avastin in 120 countries and manufactures and packages the drug at eight sites worldwide. The drug had sales of $5.8 billion in 2012 and was Roche's second-best selling drug overall. The injectable drug usually sells for about $2,500 per vial.

The FDA warned doctors to be wary of drug prices that seem "too good to be true."

"Deep discounts may be offered because the product is stolen, counterfeit, substandard, or unapproved," the agency states.

Incidents of counterfeiting reported by drugmakers have increased steadily over the past decade, though only about 5 percent of cases are typically reported in the U.S. The rise in counterfeiting comes as pharmaceutical supply chains increasingly stretch across continents. More than 80 percent of the active ingredients used in U.S. pharmaceuticals are now manufactured overseas, according to a recent congressional report.

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

FDA finds more vials of fake cancer drug

Apr 04, 2012

(AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration is warning doctors that a second counterfeit version of the best-selling cancer drug Avastin has been found in the U.S., packaged as the Turkish brand of the medication.

Fake Avastin contained several chemicals, no drug

Feb 28, 2012

(AP) -- Counterfeit versions of the popular cancer drug Avastin obtained by European regulators contain a variety of chemicals, but not the active ingredient found in the genuine drug, according to drugmaker Roche.

FDA says breast cancer drug did not extend lives

Jul 16, 2010

(AP) -- Federal health scientists said Friday that follow-up studies of a Roche breast cancer drug show it failed to slow tumor growth or extend patient lives, opening the door for a potential withdrawal in that indication.

Recommended for you

FDA OKs Cubist antibiotic for serious infections

8 hours ago

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medicine to fight complex infections in the abdomen and urinary tract, the fourth antibiotic the agency has approved since May.

Xtoro approved for swimmer's ear

Dec 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—Xtoro (finafloxacin otic suspension) eardrops have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat swimmer's ear, clinically known as acute otitis externa.

Drug interaction identified for ondansetron, tramadol

Dec 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—In the early postoperative period, ondansetron is associated with increased requirements for tramadol consumption, according to a review and meta-analysis published online Dec. 10 in Anaesthesia.

New system targets germs in donated blood plasma

Dec 17, 2014

(HealthDay)—A new system designed to eliminate germs in donated blood plasma and reduce the risk of transmitting a plasma-borne infection has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.