This is troubling on so many levels. The maker of the Avastin cancer drug is currently warning doctors and hospitals that a fake version of the drug has been found, and it's really hard to tell if you might have the fraudulent version. Genentech, which makes Avastin, was short on details of how much fake medicine is out there and how many people are using it--they simply found that some vials of "Avastin" did not contain the active ingredient. "It's not Avastin. It's not safe and effective, and it shouldn't be used," a spokeswoman said in a Wall Street Journal report.
According to the Avastin website, it's a drug that's taken intravenously and is used with chemotherapy in colon, lung, and kidney cancer. The Wall Street Journal adds, "Avastin belongs to a class of cancer therapies that interferes with the development of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow."
The tricky thing is that because of the nature of some diseases and in this case cancer, treatments don't always yield results, prompting doctors to chalk up an unsuccessful treatment to failure not a dummy medicine. "A 400-milligram vial of Avastin—the size that was counterfeited—costs $2,400," notes The Wall Street Journal, while Reuters reports that the FDA has already sent letters to 19 medical practices warning them about the drug.