CBS news has discovered that some doctors are using medicine even Bon Jovi wouldn’t approve of — at least 79 U.S. medical practices have been identified by the federal government as purchasing cancer drugs from foreign or unlicensed suppliers.
These drugs are illegal for doctors to purchase, as they are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Foreign, unapproved drugs are often cheaper than their American counterparts. The article gives the example of a European version of Avastin, which could be as much as $600 less than the average U.S. manufacturer’s price.
The problem can be seen through that same example: CBS found that vials of Avastin sold by companies in the Barbados, Denmark, Switzerland, Egypt – and yes, even the U.K. – were fake. The vials contained none of the drug, rendering them useless for treating cancer. Yet unsuspecting patents were being treated with this fake drug by doctors they trusted.
Counterfeit, fake, and foreign medicine poses serious health risks to patients through contamination and adverse or no effects. However, there are medical practices and doctors willing to risk these dangers simply to save a little money.
This fraud highlights just how important it is for you to be your own patient advocate. You may be able to catch a counterfeit medicine simply by asking where it’s from. The article describes these medicines as having “foreign labels with no stamp of approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration.” Keeping an eye out could help you discover a clinic that is putting its patients at risk.
Beyond that, this fraud reminds us that some doctors are not trustworthy. You cannot always trust others to do what is best for your health, especially when money is a factor. While many doctors truly care for their patients, you must take care of yourself by being your own patient advocate, asking questions, and doing all you can to understand and be knowledgeable about your treatment. It may save your life.
Send me your thoughts and thanks for reading!
Rebecca S Busch
Patient Healthcare Advocate