Bogus cancer drug not in Western Pennsylvania
Western Pennsylvania hospitals and oncologists checked supplies of the anti-cancer drug Avastin on Wednesday because of concern that counterfeits missing the essential ingredients entered the U.S. market, but none appeared to reach Pittsburgh.
Roche subsidiary Genentech, which makes the drug for treating brain, lung, kidney and colorectal cancers, said counterfeit versions were found and officials were working with the Food and Drug Administration to determine the origin and destinations. The drug generates about $6 billion a year for Switzerland-based Roche.
The FDA believes the counterfeit drugs came from a foreign supplier, Quality Special Products, also known as Montana Health Care Solutions, and were distributed through Gainesboro, Tenn.-based Volunteer Distribution.
UPMC's hospitals and doctors obtain all supplies from another distributor, said Dr. Adam Brufsky, associate director of the UPMC Cancer Institute.
"We'll do spot-checks, random checks, anyway, just to be sure. We already had our head of pharmacy check into it (Wednesday) morning," Brufsky said. "We probably are the biggest user in the entire region, given our volume."
The West Penn Allegheny Health System also uses a different supplier, Cardinal, said spokeswoman Stephanie Waite.
"Of course, our pharmacists are exercising additional caution because of the warning," she said.
St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon stocks a limited supply of Avastin, said spokesman Robert Crytzer, and buyers for the hospital checked the stock when they became aware of the FDA warning. They found none of the counterfeit drug, he said.
Genentech officials said the fake vials do not contain Avastin's key ingredient and are neither effective nor safe. The counterfeit packaging lists Roche as manufacturer, not Genentech, and has text in French on outer packaging.
The FDA sent letters to 19 doctors and medical centers in California, Texas and Illinois, warning they might have purchased cancer medicines from Volunteer Distribution that could include counterfeit Avastin. The letters noted that QSP/Montana Health Care Solutions provided other medications from foreign sources that the FDA did not approve. The agency urged doctors to stop using those medications.
Except when there are shortages of U.S.-made drugs, the FDA discourages the purchase of foreign versions of agency-approved drugs. Although Avastin is approved for treatment of brain, lung, colorectal and kidney cancers, the FDA withdrew its approval of using the drug to treat breast cancer in November because of dangerous side effects.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Captured: Manhunt ends for Pa. trooper ambush suspect Frein
- Veteran LB Harrison: Steelers must play to way defense is set up
- 5 Cal U football players arrested for assault; Saturday’s game canceled
- Pirates likely to seek pitcher, catcher when free agency starts
- Fleury, Penguins too much for Kings
- Steelers notebook: Fully healthy, rookie WR Bryant progressing fast
- Hackers’ new Dyre malware infects W.Pa. computers, vexes FBI cyber agents
- Rossi: The best Penguins defense is ... a potent offense
- Emaciated Lab-collie mix found in garbage bag in New Stanton
- ‘Big play’ moniker fits veteran Steelers cornerback Gay
- Police: Man wanted in fatal ambush of Pennsylvania trooper finally captured