A counterfeit medicine in Haiti, the latest scam to cure Cuban allergies

A counterfeit medicine in Haiti, the latest scam to cure Cuban allergies

From clandestine factories in Haiti, false containers of ketotifen have entered the informal market on the island, an anti-allergy in high demand by Cubans and which is only sold by prescription, through the so-called card. The Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices (Cecmed) warned this Thursday that the ingestion of these pills poses a serious risk to health and advised against their consumption “under any circumstances”.

Ketotifen is used as an auxiliary treatment for bronchial asthma and allergic bronchitis, as well as for multisystem allergies, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and skin reactions, which Cubans frequently suffer due to the island’s climate and poor diet.

The Center explained that this month it received two notifications about the falsification of the product, which in its authentic invoice is manufactured by the German company Stada. After analyzing the photographic evidence of the presentations and comparing the specifications that each one should contain, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), its falsification and its lack of safety and efficacy were determined, he said in a statement published by the official press. .

The Center explained that this month it received two notifications about the falsification of the product, which in its authentic invoice is manufactured by the German company Stada

One of the elements to determine the falsehood corresponds to the fact that 1 milligram (mg) ketotifen Stada is a product made in Germany, which is presented in hard capsules and not in tablets, like the counterfeit medicine.

It also does not match the National Drug Code (NDC) for drugs registered in the United States. In addition, it is not listed in the Cuban medical directory and its bar labeling is not found in the international database.

Cecmed pointed out that another inconsistency detected is that the data on the package agrees with those of calcium rosuvastatin, a medicine to treat high cholesterol and prevent heart attacks and strokes. In another sample, data corresponding to prednisone, used for inflammation and allergies, was found.

This month, authorities also issued counterfeit alerts for clonazepam, a drug belonging to the group of benzodiazepines, which acts on the nervous system to control epilepsy. Similarly, presentations of neurobion were found, a medication prescribed for patients over 14 years of age with deficiencies in vitamins B1, B6 and B12.

Between January and May of this year, Cecmed assured that 18.5% of the queries handled by the Drug Information Service, a market surveillance division, correspond to reviews of the authenticity of clonazepam. Of these checks, 80% turned out to be fake products.

The institution recognizes that counterfeit drugs are designed to pass as genuine and are difficult for consumers to detect with the naked eye. Its consumption may be ineffective for the patient’s disease and, in the worst cases, cause adverse reactions or be a health hazard.

For Cecmed, it is a “latent danger” to buy medicines through unregulated websites, such as social networks and phone applications

For Cecmed, it is a “latent danger” to buy drugs through unregulated websites, such as social networks and phone applications, where there is little market control. He recommends checking for some common counterfeit flaws, such as grammatical errors, as well as checking the date of manufacture and expiration, and damaged packaging.

The lack of medication It is constant on the Island and the prospects for the rest of the year are not reassuring. Last May, the state company BioCubaFarma warned that it did not have enough raw materials to guarantee the production of the most widely consumed drugs or the most urgent ones for patients with terminal illnesses –such as cytostatics that are used for cancer patients– due to financial problems and delays. in the importation of inputs.

In Las Tunas, the Directorate of Pharmacies and Optics indicated last week that the industry has activated production lines of natural medicine, such as tablets with balsam extracts, to deliver to bedridden patients, psychiatric patients, children and other people in a state of vulnerability.

Amid shortages, online sales are fertile ground for deceiving consumers with counterfeit products. During the toughest months of the covid-19 pandemic, scam cases they increased as stockouts spread through state stores.

There have also been cases of officials who have adulterated medicines. In 2017, the Cuban Prosecutor’s Office uncovered a network of BioCubaFarma laboratory workers who substituted placebo substances for the active principle of several drugs for children’s consumption.

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