The American Society of Clinical Oncology has published a list of cancer myths and facts to debunk them, offering readers a tool that may help fact check questionable cancer-related stories. But one antidote we are yet to find is the answer to the proliferation of counterfeit cancer drugs.
Sutent (Sunitinib) is an oral, small-molecule, multi-targeted receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor that was approved by the FDA for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma and imatinib-resistant gastrointestinal stromal tumor. This medication is used to treat certain types of cancer (kidney, pancreas, and intestinal). It is also used to treat people who are at high risk of the kidney cancer coming back again after having kidney surgery. Sunitinib works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer tumors. It also works by slowing the growth of new blood vessels within the tumor.
Recently there has been a proliferation of fake cancer drugs and Sutent is one of the latest casualty. Criminals have been defrauding cancer patients until their cover was blown. The fraud only came to light after one patient taking the fake medicine noticed imperfections in the packaging of the box the Sutent supply came in, shoddy looking capsules that seemed to be a different colour to normal, and the absence of side effects to which they had become accustomed.
The perpetrators constructed an elaborate system to get the falsified drugs into the legitimate supply chain, including sham pharma distributors that were set up to sell them, according to a news report from Gauchazh Seguranca.
It is estimated that the distributors sold almost $2.4m-worth of Sutent across Brazil, although how much of that was falsified isn’t known. Another person who remains at large has an arrest warrant and – if convicted – the six suspects could face up to 15 years in jail.
What does fake Fake Sutent (Sunitinib) look like?
A consumer, may not have access to most of the test equipment used by regulatory bodies to verify the identity of a drug product but there are simple guidelines that can help identify a fake Sutent:
Check the Sutent Packaging: This is the simplest and the easiest method to check the authenticity of the Sutent cancer medicine. Check the packaging for details like unusual fonts, print color, and missing logo. Analyze whether it appears the same or different from the one you have used before.
No Breakage in the Seal: Sutent packet that comes with a security seal should not be damaged. Look for a crack or breaks in the sealing tape.
Check the Sutent Dosage Form: Look for dissimilarities in physical appearance of the drug like its color, size, uniformity, consistency, shape, etc.
Physical Attributes of tablet: As stated by World Health Organization, the common physical attributes that need to be looked out in medicine tablets are;
- Small pieces of tablets, excessive powder at the bottom of the medicine container, or brittle and crumbly capsule spilling powder.
- Cracks in the tablets or capsule.
- The appearance of crystal on the container walls or on the medicine tablets.
- Softening or hardening of the medicines.
- Swelling, spots or discoloration of the tablets or capsule.
Allergies / Unexpected Side Effects from using Sutent: Most of the medicines including Sutent have side effects. It is important to consult your doctor before the usage to keep a check on allergies arising from it. If you notice certain unexpected or harmful side effects from your medication, report to your doctor immediately.
Price of Sutent: If the price of a Sutent is suddenly far cheaper than the usual rate, double check the product as there may be a chance that the fake companies wanted to lure customers by providing medicines at much cheaper rates.
Verify Online or SMS: Many countries have unique methods for the verification of the genuineness of pills using authentication code or other online portals to confirm the authenticity of the Sutent being purchased.
What Are Side Effects of Genuine or original Sutent?
Side effects of Sutent include:
- unusual or unpleasant taste in the mouth
- upset stomach
- dry skin
- changes in skin or hair color (yellow skin or lighter skin/hair)
- hair loss
- joint pain
- back pain
- mouth pain/sores
- abdominal pain
- rash or other skin changes such as dry or cracked skin
- blisters or rash on hands or feet
- loss of appetite
- pain or swelling in the arms or legs
- numbness or tingling of the arms or legs
- shortness of breath
- watery eyes
- swelling around the eyes
- chest pain
- general ill feeling, or
- uneven heart rate.
Tell your doctor if you have serious side effects of Sutent including:
- easy bruising or bleeding,
- swelling ankles or feet,
- unusual weight changes,
- cold or heat intolerance,
- unusual tiredness,
- black or bloody stools,
- vomit that looks like coffee grounds,
- coughing up blood,
- slow wound healing,
- jaw pain,
- toe/joint/back pain,
- painful urination,
- cloudy/pink/bloody urine,
- changes in the amount of urine,
- muscle weakness/cramping/twitching,
- signs of low blood sugar (such as hunger, shakiness, fast heartbeat, sweating),
- mental/mood changes (such as decreased alertness, irritability, nervousness), or
- vision changes (such as decreased vision).