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Fake cancer drugs hit Uganda market

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The Uganda National Drug Authority (NDA) has impounded packages of unregistered and counterfeit cancer medicines that are being sold in the Ugandan market.Donna Asiimwe Kusemererwa, the NDA executive secretary, said the impounded counterfeit drugs were smuggled into Uganda from China.

A statement circulated by NDA said the drugs include Avastin (bevacizumab), a first-line drug in the treatment of ovarian cancer, and Sutent (sunitinib malate), medicine often used to treat progressive tumours of the digestive system, the pancreas, and the kidneys.

The statement added that although the genuine Sutent drug is supplied only as hard gelatin capsules, the fake product is presented as bluish-grey tablets.

The NDA warning further stated that the genuine Sutent drug is manufactured by Pfizer, a US-based drugs company; however, the counterfeit is labeled as made in Sweden.
Similarly, the Avastin drug which is supplied as an intravenous injection has been counterfeited and presented as bluish-grey tablets.

The genuine drug is manufactured by Roche, a pharmaceutical firm based in Germany and Switzerland, while the counterfeit Avastin is labeled as made in Sweden.
“The containers for both drugs claimed to be “Made in Sweden AstraZeneca 2014,” according to the NDA.

AstraZeneca is a UK-based firm which recently sold its antibiotics business to Pfizer.
However, containers of the counterfeit products have wrong spellings of the name AstraZeneca; in some places spelt as “AstraZenaca” and group as “grroup”. Astrazeneca and Turbuhaler are trademarks of the Astrazeneca group of companies.

“All pharmacies, health providers and the public are advised to exercise caution and vigilance while handling medicines, and to report any illegal suppliers of medicine to NDA,” NDA spokesman Frederick Ssekyana said in the statement, adding that anyone found in possession of the products would be prosecuted.

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