The European Medicines Agency (EMA) reports that it has been informed that vials of the cancer medicine Herceptin (trastuzumab), thought to have been stolen in Italy, including from hospitals, have been tampered with and re-introduced under false credentials into the supply chain in some countries. "This is currently being investigated by member state authorities and updates will be provided as more information becomes available" said EMA in a statement. "Italian law enforcement authorities are currently investigating the theft and are looking at whether other medicines may also be affected."
EMA said that no affected product has so far been identified at the hospital level and that there are no reports that any harm has come to patients in relation to the falsified medicine.
EMA says healthcare professionals across the European Union (EU) are being alerted to the falsified Herceptin vials and are being provided with information on signs seen so far that may indicate a vial is not genuine. These include:
•The batch numbers and expiry dates on most vials do not match those on the outer package.
•There is liquid present in some vials of Herceptin powder for solution (Herceptin is a white to yellow powder.
• Evidence of tampering with the rubber stoppers, crimping caps or lids.
•The falsified vials are labeled as Italian Herceptin® 150 mg.
The numbers of the Herceptin batches known to be affected are H4311B07, H4329B01, H4284B04, H4319B02, H4324B03, H4196B01, H4271B01, H4301B09 and H4303B01. Although only a small number of vials is thought to be affected, the marketing authorization holder for Herceptin, as a precautionary measure, is recalling vials suspected of having being falsified, according to EMA. In addition, parallel distributors across the EU are being alerted with the above information. The EMA is coordinating the response by the appropriate health authorities in the member states. "Although all information is not yet available, it is not expected that this will result in shortage of medicines for cancer patients, said EMA.
Herceptin is produced by Roche.