Last week, the maker of the widely used cancer drug Avastin, issued a warning that a counterfeit version of the drug was discovered in the United States. The announcement revived concerns among hospital officials, government regulators, doctors and patients about the growing threat of fake drugs.
Upon learning of the notice, MD Anderson pharmacy staff examined their supply of Avastin and confirmed that none of the counterfeit drug was found on the main campus, or in the regional care centers. As an additional safety procedure, pharmacists contacted their wholesale provider and determined that none of tainted drug entered the supply chain that MD Anderson purchases from.
David Crowther, a clinical pharmacy specialist, said MD Anderson has stringent guidelines when purchasing drugs and a set of procedures in place which are initiated at the time of recalls or other manufacturer warnings.
"One of the things we do, especially in light of all the recent drug shortages, is to always stay with reputable supply chains to maintain the integrity of our products," Crowther said. "We will never order from a gray market or outside the country that's not sanctioned by the FDA."
Avastin is a common drug used to treat colon, lung and other cancers. It works by cutting off the blood supply that feeds tumors. The FDA launched an investigation and said it has not received any reports of patients being harmed. Generally, counterfeit drugs do not contain the active ingredients and have traditionally been an issue in developing countries.