Patients Unknowingly Risk Their Lives with Fake Meds from Canada

Patients who obtain medications from Canadian-based suppliers may be risking their lives. Avastin is a legitimate drug used for cancer patients. Some fake Avastin drug has been discovered in the U.S.  It made its way here from Canada.  Although it originated from Turkey, it traveled through several middlemen.  U.S. citizens bought it from a Canadian pharmaceutical supplier. According to the Wall Street Journal article How Fake Cancer Drugs Entered the U.S., Kris Thorkelson’s Canada Drugs Group of Cos sold two batches of fake Avastin to doctors in the United States.

In my 15 years as a pharmaceutical sales representative, I sat through a number of speeches from company leaders regarding the dangers of obtaining medications from outside of the U.S.  My Arizona territory was close to Mexico. Therefore, I heard a lot of stories about patients going across the border to get cheaper medications.  Mexico seemed a little scary to some people due to the economy and developing nature of the country.  Therefore, later, Canada seemed to be the place people went to get a “good deal” on pricing.

Canada used to be able to obtain good medications more easily.  However the Wall Street Journal explained that, “by 2003, big drug makers seeking to protect their U.S. sales shut online pharmacies out of the Canadian supply chain, forcing them to seek supplies elsewhere.” It was at that point that pharmacies like Canada Drugs Group started looking to foreign countries to obtain medications.  Some of these countries do not have the strict guidelines that we have here in the U.S.

The sad thing about this particular case is that many cancer patients may have received fake medications that could cost them serious health issues.  The fake medication contained no active ingredient to help fight patients’ cancer.  The Wall Street Journal article cited a New York oncologist who claimed, “People who receive a fake medication instead of Avastin could have lost several months of their lives.”

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