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Fake prescription drugs are flooding the United States

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7300.1446/c (Published 16 June 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1446
  1. Fred Charatan
  1. Florida

    Three counterfeit prescription drugs have reached the shelves of American pharmacies and in some cases have been given to patients. Some phials contained cheap generic versions of the drugs named on the packaging; others contained liquids with no active ingredients.

    The drugs involved, all three of which are injectable, are filgrastim (Neupogen), an anticancer drug sold by Amgen; and two versions of the human growth hormone somatropin, Serostim, made by Serono, and Nutropin, which is sold by Genentech.

    Genentech issued a warning to patients, physicians, pharmacies, and wholesalers that the counterfeit drug may pose a serious health risk to patients. It also showed how closely the packaging of counterfeited Nutropin AQ resembled the genuine version.

    All three drugs are expensive, which could be why the counterfeiters selected them. A 12 week course of Serostim, for example, which is used to treat wasting associated with AIDS, costs $21 000 (£15 000). In the case of Serostim, some patients complained last year of a …

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