Arrests made after fakes of Pfizer’s Sutent found in Brazil

Five people have been arrested in connection with a sophisticated scam in Brazil that results in counterfeits of Pfizer’s cancer drug Sutent being administered to patients.

The fraud only came to light after one patient taking the fake medicine noticed imperfections in the packaging of the box the Sutent supply came in, shoddy looking capsules that seemed to be a different colour to normal, and the absence of side effects to which they had become accustomed.

The perpetrators constructed an elaborate system to get the falsified drugs into the legitimate supply chain, including sham pharma distributors that were set up to sell them, according to a news report from Gauchazh Seguranca.

It is estimated that the distributors sold almost $2.4m-worth of Sutent across Brazil, although how much of that was falsified isn’t known. Another person who remains at large has an arrest warrant and – if convicted – the six suspects could face up to 15 years in jail.

Sutent (sunitinib) is used to treat adults with kidney cancer, gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) and a type of pancreatic cancer known as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (pNET).

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