Company failed to disclose problems with treatment to Medicines Control Council
Early last year Noseweek shone the spotlight on the marketing of generic drugs – particularly those prescribed for the treatment of cancer – and on a generic drug distributor, Eurolab.
The company, which supplies oncology practices with what is ostensibly data-collection software, but is in effect a program that ensures any practice using it will prescribe or dispense Eurolab’s products wherever possible.
Eurolab distributes an oncology product, Axtere, manufactured by a company called Accord. The product is also known as Accord Docetaxel; Docetaxel being the name of the formulation. Axtere is a generic of an established cancer drug called Sanofi, which has come out of patent.
Axtere – a drug that needs to be mixed – is sold under two names, Taxotere and Docetere, and is administered intravenously through infusion lines. In each case the drug must be stored below 25°C and prepared and infused at room temperature.
Soon after Axtere made its appearance it was found to be seriously problematic: oncology practices complained that it “turned into jelly in the lines”. In other words, it separated, blocking the infusion lines and making it impossible to administer intravenously.
The oncologists objected to using it but Eurolab told them to “just heat the stuff up to 38°C and it’ll be fine” and “Here, use these heating devices”.