In a March 14th post, I alerted readers to a Wall Street Journal story about the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issuing warning letters about counterfeit Avastin which contains no active ingredients. The authentic version of this product is used in the treatment of certain kinds of colon, lung and other cancers. The phony items are labeled as Altuzan, the brand name used in Turkey.
The FDA has now issued a second letter dated April 5th to more than 50 doctors and medical clinics about the discovery of a second batch of counterfeit Altuzan. This brings the total number of practices receiving such notices to 76 which is an alarming increase in just one month.
These foreign products have a much lower purchase price as noted in the March 14th article. Providers who administered these fake drugs but billed health plans at the standard rate could substantially increase their profits on these transactions.
I will make every effort to keep BlueNC readers up to date on this important issue.
David R. Work is Executive Director Emeritus of The North Carolina Board of Pharmacy.
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