A week after the US Food and Drug Administration notified 19 clinical medical practices that the Avastin with which they were treating cancer patients was counterfeit and contained no active ingredient, the Health Ministry of Israel announced a shipment of Avastin bearing an identical number to a batch identified as fake was sold in Israel in July 2010.

“Roche and the FDA published an announcement stating they suspected Avastin was being counterfeited,” stated the Health Ministry. “One of the batches identified as fake is identical to a batch imported and sold in Israel in July 2010.”

Haaretz reported that the Health Ministry has not yet determined where the medicines are or revealed how they know the drugs were sold into Israel two years ago. However the medication is only administered at hospitals and health clinics, so the Ministry has warned all cancer wards to look for and isolate any of the suspect medicine.

The Ministry has not released any results of testing for counterfeits.

“The fake medication entered the United States by means of Europe, and reasonable suspicions indicate that they originally came from Egypt. We’re working with the HMOs in order to determine whether the drugs are fake, and are asking that this batch not be used for the time being,” said Mickey Arieli, director of the Health Ministry’s pharmaceutical crime unit.

By S. Imber