WEDNESDAY, April 4, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has confirmed another counterfeit version of the cancer drug bevacizumab, most commonly known as Avastin, is being sold in the United States.
This time, the counterfeit product -- which the FDA says contains no active ingredient -- is posing as injectable Altuzan (bevacizumab) 400 mg/16ml, a Roche cancer medication that is approved for use in Turkey but not in the United States.
"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 said in a statement released Wednesday.
According to the FDA, medical practices got the fake Altuzan from "foreign sources" that include Richards Pharma (aka Richards Services), Warwick Healthcare Solutions or Ban Dune Marketing Inc (BDMI).
"Many, if not all of the products sold and distributed through this distributor have not been approved by the FDA," the agency said. The agency is urging all medical practices that believe they have received unapproved products from the three companies to "stop using [the products] and contact the FDA."
This is not the first time counterfeit Avastin has been spotted in the United States. In mid-February, Roche's Genetech unit warned of fake vials of Avastin. Later that month, the company said the fake drug was probably not harmful, but did not contain any active ingredient and so would be useless for people fighting cancer.
Doctors infuse Avastin to treat colon, lung, kidney and brain cancer.
According to the Associated Press, worldwide reports of drug counterfeiting have increased over the past 10 years.
There's more on bevacizumab at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
SOURCES: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, April 4, 2012; Associated Press
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