Avastin officially hits Chinese market after fake drug incident

10:54, September 27, 2010      

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Shanghai Roche Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., Roche's first joint venture in China, announced on its website yesterday that Avastin, a drug used to treat metastatic colorectal cancer, has been approved for sales on the Chinese mainland.

On Sept. 22, Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Supervision Administration reported that the drug suspected of causing adverse reactions in 61 patients at the Shanghai No. 1 People's Hospital was a fake version of Avastin.

The organization had launched an investigation after 116 patients were given the medicine on Sept. 6 and Sept. 8 and 61 of them experienced negative symptoms, including pain, red eyes and unclear vision. The patients thought they were receiving injections of Avastin for macular degeneration, a type of eye disease.

Song Guofan, an official with the Shanghai Municipal Public Health Bureau, did npt disclose detailed information on how the fake drug entered the hospital and caused negative symptoms.

Metastatic colorectal cancer is Avastin's only approved use in China, and Roche has not launched marketing in the mainland market, Cao Yong, a manager with Shanghai Roche, told the New Century Weekly.

"Currently, it is impossible to buy Avastin in legal pharmacies and hospitals in China," Cao said.

However, there is still doubt about Roche and the local drug authority's explanation.

More than 30 hospitals are using Avastin for macular degeneration, and at least 1,000 patients have been receiving Avastin injections, reported today's China Business News.

It is unreasonable to say that all these hospitals have been using fake drugs and to say that relevant authorities know nothing about all these cases, an unidentified expert told the newspaper.

By Qi Shuwen, People's Daily Online


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