Turkish police in Istanbul have arrested 56 as part of an organized crime ring in the business of manufacturing and distributing counterfeit cancer drugs for sale in Turkey and other countries, including the United States.

The Hurriyet Daily News has reported that police in Istanbul have broken up a conspiracy operating throughout Turkey that manufactured and distributed counterfeit cancer medication. 56 have been arrested, including 5 health care workers who have been implicated for their alleged role in getting the fake drugs into hospitals. Authorities are searching as well for at least 2 doctors that may have played a role in the distribution of the fake drugs.

Police raided a printing house in Bağcılar district, reports Hurriyet Daily News, where the counterfeit boxes and prosectuses were created. Fake passports and a weapon were found on site. The gang allegedly had two modes of counterfeiting: they allegedly re-packaged expired drugs as if new and re-sold them to patients and also manufactured counterfeit versions of drugs for sale.

It was also reported that the crime ring sold fake drugs to medical practices in the United States, manufacturing about 30 different counterfeit drugs, including cancer treatment.

According to Hurriyet Daily News,95 Turkish cancer patients had been treated with the counterfeits and their health deteriorated after taking the fake drugs.

The fake drugs were spotted by a nurse at state-run Şişli Etfal Education and Research Hospital, who questioned disparities in the drug’s packaging. Once the nurse noticed differences in the medication, she checked the drug’s registration with its expiration and found them to be different. The drug was then sent to the manufacturer, where it was tested and found to be counterfeit, reports Hurriyet Daily News.

By S. Imber