Drugmaker Roche warns of counterfeit cancer drug in U.S.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The maker of the best-selling cancer drug Avastin is warning doctors and patients about counterfeit vials of the product distributed in the U.S.

Roche’s Genentech unit says the fake products do not contain the key ingredient in Avastin, which is used to treat cancers of the colon, lung, kidney and brain.

Doctors who suspect they have received counterfeit drug should contact the Food and Drug Administration’s criminal unit or Roche quality assurance department. The company said any patient taking Avastin who experiences side effects should contact their doctor immediately.

The company says the counterfeit products do not have Genentech printed on the packaging, which appears on all FDA-approved packages of the drug. Additionally, real Avastin contains a six-digit lot number with no letters. All the text on the product’s packaging should be in English.

The company believes drugs labeled with the following lot numbers may be fake: B86017, B6011 and B6010.

Avastin is a widely-prescribed cancer therapy that works by choking off the blood supply that feeds tumors, the first drug of its kind approved by the FDA.

The injectable drug generates about $6 billion per year for the Swiss drugmaker Roche, and in 2010 it was the 14th best-selling drug in the U.S., according to data tracking firm IMS Health.

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On the Web:

http://www.gene.com/gene/news/press-releases/press_statements/ps_021412.html

www.fda.gov/OCI

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