Colombian police take down counterfeit pharma ring

Police in Colombia have broken a criminal network involved in selling fake and expired medicines, making 10 arrests.

A report in the Colombiano newspaper notes that a raid at a location in Medellin, Antioquia uncovered drugs intended to treat cancer, HIV, contraceptives, and other generic drugs, along with equipment used to manufacture doses and print packaging.

The newspaper reports that the gang also smuggled expired medications from Venezuela, falsifying expiration dates and storing them in inappropriate conditions.

The falsified drugs were sold in Bogota, Cucuta, and Medellin over the Internet, but the criminals were reportedly also able to inveigle products into the national health system supply chain. Police estimated that the gang made almost $4m from its counterfeiting and smuggling operations.

Brands affected by the activity included several cancer drugs, including Merck & Co's Temodal (temozolomide), Novartis' Afinitor (everolimus) and Gleevec (imatinib), Roche's Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Avastin (bevacizumab), and Janssen's Zytiga (abiraterone acetate).

The gang also targeted HIV therapies including AbbVie's Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) and Gilead Sciences' Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate).

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