WHO warns of fake cancer drug circulating in the US, Europe

Alia Paavola -

The World Health Organization is warning patients, physicians and pharmacies about a fake cancer drug that is circulating in the U.S. and Europe, according to The Guardian.

The fake drug is packaged to resemble the oral cancer treatment Iclusig, which contains the active ingredient ponatinib to fight chronic leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

However, the fake drug does not have the active ingredient, which makes it ineffective.

"There's no active ingredient, so it's a really high value product," Michael Deats, who leads the group that runs surveillance on fake medications at the WHO, told The Guardian. "It's dangerous. We're concerned about this one."

Iclusig is expensive, priced around $13,500, or $450 a pill, in the U.S.

"Just the mere fact it's circulating [is a concern]. You don't know how much there is, you don’t know what quantities are in existence, and there are sometimes wholesalers that will act unscrupulously, and that’s how it can get into the system as well. Everyone needs to be on their guard that this is in circulation," Mr. Deats said.

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