Saturday, February 25, 2012

News Brief: Tracking pedigree is crucial to prevent counterfeit drugs from reaching patients, Boston cancer doctors say

Bassel Ghaddar

It is indubitably important that drugs arriving at healthcare centers be rigorously reviewed before they are issued to patients, especially in the cases in which the drugs could present harmful and threatening side effects. Unfortunately, such meticulous inspection of incoming drugs can often be difficult, especially when the drugs come from overseas manufacturers, which is increasingly common.
Such drugs have wound their way into the clinical practices across the United States. Recently news came out that 19 doctors in the US have purchased a counterfeit version of Avastin, a drug used to treat several different types of cancers. Dr. David Frank, chairman of the pharmacy and therapeutics committee at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute calls this news “not completely unheard of, but shocking nonetheless”.
One reason this issue has grown recently is the practice many insurers have taken up called “brown-bagging”, in which insurers ask patients to order medications through specialty pharmacies instead of through doctors at cancer centers. Though it is a cost saving measure, “brown-bagging” risks patient safety because the medications are often mailed directly to the patient’s home. This raises issues on how the drug is stored and handled, and makes tracking the drug’s history increasingly difficult. This issue was brought up at a recent Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health, and, for the safety of patients, clearly needs immediate attention.

Reference: Conaboy, Chelsea. "Tracking pedigree is crucial to prevent counterfeit drugs from reaching patients, Boston cancer doctors say" . White Coat News. Web. Feb 15 2012.
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