WHO warns of fake cancer drugs in Uganda

Falsified copies of Roche's Avastin and Pfizer's Sutent - both used to treated cancer - have been discovered on sale in Uganda, according to the World Health organization (WHO).

Last month, Uganda's National Drug Authority reported to theWHO that it had seized falsified Avastin (bevacizumab) and Sutent (sunitinib) products "that were being distributed in the vicinity of various cancer treatment centres in Kampala", the Ugandan capitol. The genuine manufacturers of both products have confirmed that they did not manufacture these products.

In the case of Avastin the falsified product - with the batch number NC 1060 and an expiry of 02-2019 - was falsely represented as being made by AstraZeneca rather than Roche/Genentech. The fakes were presented in plastic bottles containing blue/grey tablets, whereas genuine Avastin is supplied only as an injection for intravenous use.

The falsified Sutent had similar packaging and once again was claimed to be an AZ product rather than manufactured by Pfizer, and once again was presented in plastic bottles containing blue/grey tablets whereas genuine Sutent comes in gelatin capsule form. The batch number on the label was NC 2001, with an expiry date of 02-2019.

For now, the constituents of the falsified tablets have not been released. In a statement, the WHO said it "requests increased vigilance within the supply chains of countries likely to be affected by these falsified products. Increased vigilance should include hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies and any other suppliers of medical products."

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