Illustrated By Elliot Salazar.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration released a warning against companies that are slipping undeclared pharmaceutical-grade chemicals into their “all-natural” supplements. We wrote about the guilty brands, and sighed yet again over the continuing train wreck that is the diet-drug scene. (Diet drugs are bad, kids.)
This week, the FDA is back with some even worse news. An expanding network of "rogue" drug distributors, as the FDA calls them, are peddling counterfeit drugs — ineffective or even toxic pharmaceutical knockoffs — directly to doctors, who are then distributing them to their patients through the offices, clinics, or hospitals where they work. These drugs include fake Botox and, even more horribly, phony cancer drugs: AP reports that counterfeit "copies" of the cancer drug Avastin have made it into the U.S. healthcare supply chain three times during the past three years — and were given to unknown numbers of cancer patients.
The FDA is fighting back by issuing advisories to doctors and purchasing managers on how to spot fake meds. Their tips: Watch out for foreign-language labels, dosing instructions that are unlike those for the original version of the drug, missing safety info, and, most obviously, a name that is not on the FDA's approved list. Given that counterfeit drugs have even been making it past the doctors who prescribe them, these pointers are valuable for patients to keep in mind, too. Click through to the FDA's website for more information.