August 3, 2006

UK finds another fake batch of Pfizer drug Lipitor

LONDON (Reuters) - British authorities have found a new
batch of counterfeit packs of Pfizer Inc's Lipitor cholesterol
pill in the legitimate supply chain, highlighting the risk
posed by fake drugs, officials said on Thursday.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
first seized fake Lipitor tablets in July 2005 and said last
month that more packs from that batch had appeared. The packs
recalled on Thursday had a different lot number. "The testing
of the counterfeit product indicates that there is no immediate
risk to patients, but because it is a counterfeit we can not
guarantee its quality," Danny Lee-Frost, Head of Enforcement at
the MHRA said in a statement.

"The MHRA advises patients to stop taking tablets from this
batch and to contact their pharmacist. If patients have any
concerns about possible side effects they should discuss them
with their doctor." Pfizer said it was deeply concerned by the

"This is the third time that a Pfizer medicine has been
targeted, after the two previous incidents related to the
discovery of the same batch of counterfeit Lipitor in the last
year," said Olivier Brandicourt, managing director at Pfizer


"Enough is enough, and we are calling for the MHRA and law
enforcement agencies to conduct a full and thorough
investigation into this incident and the general vulnerability
of the medicines supply chain."

The incident underscores the growing threat of fake
medicines, which the British watchdog said had become a
worldwide problem and a lucrative business for criminal gangs.

Lipitor is world's biggest-selling prescription drug, with
annual worldwide sales of $12 billion, making it an attractive
target for counterfeiters.