Egypt May Have Been Source For Counterfeit Avastin

Egypt may have been the source for counterfeit Avastin recently discovered at U.S. health care facilities and prompting the maker of the cancer drug to warn doctors and patients about the bogus medicines.

Now, authorities are trying to determine if counterfeit Avastin packs originated with an Egyptian supplier, according the United Kingdom’s health regulator, said Fox News. A worldwide effort continues to track from where the bogus Avastin came, including with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A European wholesaler, Denmark’s CareMed ApS, involved in trading the fake Avastin said it was not aware the drug was bogus, noting that it was improving its quality check system for the medications it trades, said Fox News. CareMed ApS said it was making the changes following orders from Denmark’s medical regulator and that it heard reports the fake Avastin came from Egypt or Turkey.

We previously wrote that, according to Roche’s Genentech, the fake Avastin does not contain the key ingredient in Avastin, which is prescribed for the treatment of colon, lung, kidney, and brain cancers. A Genentech spokeswoman said the counterfeit drug was distributed to health care facilities nationwide; however, the exact number of counterfeit products released, and where those products were sent, remains unknown.

“We’re still analyzing what it is; we know it doesn’t contain the active ingredient in Avastin,” Genentech spokeswoman Charlotte Arnold told the AP. The counterfeit products do not bear “Genentech” on their packaging, which does appear on all FDA-approved Avastin cartons and vials. The legitimate Avastin product contains a six-digit lot number with no letters and legitimate product packaging text is in English. Genentech believes that the bogus drugs may bear lot numbers B86017, B6011, and B6010.

The FDA contacted 19 medical practices that may have bought some unapproved drugs, including counterfeit Avastin, from Quality Specialty Products, a foreign supply company that may also be conducting business as Montana Health Care Solutions. “FDA has requested that the medical practices stop using any remaining products from these suppliers,” the agency said in a statement. The AP said that physicians who believe they may be in possession of the counterfeit Avastin should contact the FDA’s criminal unit or Roche’s quality assurance department.

It seems, said Fox News, the fake Avastin has made its way through Swiss, Danish, and British wholesalers before reaching the U.S., according to medical regulators and CareMed. “One of the lines of inquiry involves following up on the possibility that the Avastin came via an Egyptian supplier,” the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), told Fox News.

The packaging, vials, and vial labels on the fake Avastin are all counterfeit and include “incorrect expiry dates and fake batch numbers,” said Fox News. Testing revealed that the fake Avasitin does not contain bevacizumab, the drug’s active ingredient, said Fox News. The MHRA confirmed that CareMed sold the fake Avastin to River East Supplies Ltd., in the U.K. Casper Tingkaer, managing director of CareMed, told Fox News that it bought the product from Hadicon AG, a Zug, Switzerland, wholesaler.

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