Counterfeit Flu Drug Seized

Customs agents intercepted more than 50 shipments of counterfeit Tamiflu (Roche), the antiviral drug being stockpiled in anticipation of a deadly bird flu pandemic.

The first package was intercepted on November 26 at an air mail facility near San Francisco International Airport. Since then, agents have seized 51 separate packages, each containing up to 50 counterfeit capsules labeled generic Tamiflu generic.

The fake drugs had only trace elements of the drug but none of Tamiflu’s active ingredients. Initial tests indicated some vitamin C in the capsules. Information on the packages was written in Chinese, but it is unclear where the drugs originated. They were sent by Asian suppliers to individuals who placed orders over the Internet. None of the intercepted shipments has been bound for doctors or hospitals.

Agents became suspicious because because no generic version of Tamiflu is available.

The Roche Web site says the company does not advocate buying this medication from the Internet. Patients should consult with a health care professional before buying Tamiflu and should make sure that they obtain it from a “reliable source.”

The FDA will seek criminal charges if it finds any U.S. businesses were involved in the fake drug shipments.