11 plead guilty in fake Avastin case

Eleven people have pleaded guilty in the 2010 Avastin counterfeiting case in which 61 patients came down with eye infections. The substance passed off as the drug turned out to be saline contaminated with bacteria endotoxin.

The 61 patients were among 116 who were given the drug in a Shanghai hospital last September. All suffer from macular degeneration, an eye disease sometimes treated with the cancer drug. The endotoxin in the saline is "closely related" to the eye infection, reports English Eastday.

After being given the injections, some patients experienced eye inflammation and poor vision. Seventeen who had severe reactions required surgery. The rest received injections to treat the infections.

The Luwan District People's Court had yet to issue a sentence at press time. The 11 defendants could be facing the ultimate penalty as China cracks down on counterfeiters while attempting to shore up its reputation in the global pharma market. In a late 2009 case, six drug traders found guilty of exporting fake anti-malaria drugs to Nigeria were sentenced to death.

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