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Genentech announces presence of counterfeit cancer drug Avastin on U.S. market

Filed February 16th, 2012 Joshua Sophy

Genentech has issued a warning about the possibility that some vials of its top-selling cancer drug Avastin may be counterfeit.

Counterfeit drugs pose serious risks of injury and death if they’re taken by anyone. They likely contain unapproved substances which could be toxic and their origin unknown. As the cost and demand of prescription drugs increases, pharmaceutical companies are combatting a growing counterfeit market.

The drug company said the vials of counterfeit Avastin it has tested do not contain the Active Ingredient which makes the drug effective. Avastin is a leading treatment of numerous types of cancer, including colon, lung, kidney and brain cancer. The drug company has so far unsuccessfully waged an effort to get the drug approved in the treatment of some degrees of breast cancer.

According to an AP report, Genentech is unaware of the source of the counterfeit Avastin currently available on the market. It also doesn’t know how much of the current supply available in the U.S. is counterfeit. The company told AP it was working with the Food and Drug Administration to find all counterfeit vials on the market.

The counterfeit Avastin vials were first discovered by “foreign regulators,” according to the report. This leads Genentech to believe the source of the counterfeit vials are foreign and were imported to the U.S.

A hallmark of the bogus vials is the lack of Genentech printed on the packaging included with the purported Avastin. The company believes products with the following codes printed on them may be counterfeit: B86017, B6011 and B6010. Any legitimate vials of Avastin would have a six-digit (all numeric, with no letters) code printed on packaging.

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