Some doctors, in an effort to save money, have been enticed to buy drugs through wholesalers who claim to get them from legitimate suppliers overseas. Sometimes the drugs are real meds made at foreign plants. But sometimes they have turned out to be counterfeits.
Chalk up another big win for Hal Barron and his R&D team extraordinaire at Genentech. The FDA today approved a new indication for Roche's ($RHHBY) cancer drug Avastin.
The Department of Homeland Security said it stepped up efforts to stop counterfeit products last year but ended up intercepting significantly fewer counterfeit pharmaceuticals than the year before.
While lifestyle drugs such as Viagra may still be the most counterfeited drugs around the world, international authorities are finding that some of those making fake drugs are turning more often to high-priced and life-saving cancer medications.
The FDA is warning healthcare providers that counterfeit drugs can slip into the U.S. when they stray from the approved supply chain to source products and has notified 350 U.S. doctors that they may have purchased unapproved and possibly counterfeit versions of Allergan's anti-wrinkle drug Botox.
Avastin has struck out at NICE again. The U.K. cost-effectiveness watchdog says it's not inclined to back the blockbuster Roche ($RHHBY) drug as a treatment for ovarian cancer. At about $4,000 per month, NICE said, Avastin simply doesn't deliver enough value for the money.
One of the reasons counterfeit Avastin made its way into the U.S. this year was because physician clinics, looking to boost their earnings, were willing to buy drugs whose origins should have been suspect. And the FDA is not going to just let all of them off the hook.
At least some of the cancer drugs that have surfaced as part of an investigation into counterfeit Avastin were legitimate cancer drugs made by Roche but in a plant not overseen by the FDA.
Regeneron ($REGN) is eyeing a big expansion at an upstate New York plant now that its macular degeneration drug has taken off. The company plans to spend $70 million on new buildings and upgrades--and add 300 jobs--at the Albany-area facility.
While other drugmakers cut prices, set up access plans or wrangle with the Chinese government to sell products in that country, Roche ($RHHBY) is taking a more indirect tack. As Bloomberg reports, the Swiss drugmaker has teamed up with the reinsurer Swiss Re to sell private insurance to middle-class Chinese. That way, more patients can afford to use the company's pricey cancer drugs.