In "How Fake Cancer Drugs Entered US," the Wall Street Journal reports on how two batches of counterfeit Avastin [bevacizumab] made their way into the US. The Journal specifically details the role played by the Internet pharmacy Canada Drugs.
In an email, FDA spokeswoman Sarah Clark-Lynn said, "The recent counterfeit incidents highlight vulnerabilities in the drug-supply chain and the possible health risk to patients if medical practices are choosing to buy unapproved drugs from a foreign supplier."
Hopefully veep wannabe Tim Pawlenty has been following this story. When he was Governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty promised that his “drugs from Canada” Minnesota RxConnect program would serve some 700,000 people. According to latest statistics, Minnesota RxConnect filled about 138 prescriptions a month. That's for the whole state, population 5,167,101.
That’s a nod to the smarts of the people in the North Star State. Recently Minnesota, state officials observed Canadian Internet pharmacies engaging in dangerous practices.
One pharmacy had its pharmacists check 100 new prescriptions or 300 refill prescriptions per hour, a volume so high that there is no way to assure safety.
One pharmacy failed to label its products and several others failed to send any patient drug information to patients receiving prescription drugs.
Drugs requiring refrigeration were being shipped un-refrigerated with no evidence that the products would remain stable.
One pharmacy had no policy in place for drug recalls. Representatives of the pharmacy allegedly said that the patient could contact the pharmacy about a recall "if they wished."
The FDA launched an investigation, confiscating thousands of drug shipments headed for the United States. Some of them were headed for Minnesotans who ordered them over the state's Web site.
When opened, nearly half claimed to be of Canadian origin, but "85 percent of them were from 27 other countries including Iran, Ecuador and China." And 30 of them were counterfeit.
One Minnesota resident discovered that one of his "Canadian" drugs came from Greece, and another came from Vanuatu, a small island in the South Pacific. "I never heard of the place," he said.
If Governor Pawlenty is, indeed, being vetted as a Romney running mate, hopefully he’s being asked about his stance on drug importation.
The full WSJ story can be found here.