Falsified packs of cancer drug Votrient found in Germany

Axicorp GmbH has discovered another falsified medicine in the legitimate supply chain in Germany, this time a cancer therapy.

The German parallel importer found counterfeit packs of Novartis's kidney cancer and soft tissue sarcoma therapy Votrient (pazopanib, formerly sold by GlaxoSmithKline) bearing the batch numbers JN5W, MY2A, P64U, reports the German pharmacists association AMK.

The packs are labelled as containing 60 400mg film-coated tablets of the drug, which is a targeted therapy that acts as a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) to block blood vessel formation in tumours and has been on the market since 2009, racking up sales of $730m last year.

Pharmaceutical parallel importers buy and sell medicines between countries in order to profit from price differentials, and are required by EU law to re-package products to conform to the standards of the country in which they are re-sold, for example to include a label and patient package insert in the correct language. On a number of occasions the importers have identified falsified medicines as a result of this re-packaging process.

Axicorp itself was involved in discovering counterfeit copies of Gilead Sciences' HIV drug Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) last year, as well as falsified MabThera (rituximab) – sold by Roche for haematological cancers – in 2014 and 2015.

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