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Sentence appealed Child patients given outdated cancer drugs

A signpost outside of a hospital

Several Swiss hospitals were duped by the drug scam

(Keystone)

Child cancer patients were treated with outdated drugs in Switzerland and France after a company falsified the labelling on the products, two Sunday newspapers report.

The company Alkopharma distributed 2,119 bottles of Thiotepa in Switzerland, costing more than CHF207,500 ($214,000), and a further 98,820 bottles in France for more than €3.2 million euros. More than half were used to treat patients, many of them children, reports the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche.

The company falsified the expiry dates of the anti-cancer agent, which had a lifespan of 18 months. Some bottles were sold seven years later and no longer contained the required dose for active ingredient. The offence took place between 2007 and 2011. 

In June 2016, a Valais court imposed financial penalties on two Alkopharma managers. The Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedicexternal link), the national supervisor, has appealed the sentence as being too lenient. The judge had ruled last year that patients' health was not put in danger. That appeal is due to be heard in the near future.

Alkopharma, based in Martigny, canton Valais, has since gone bankrupt. 

swissinfo.ch/mga with agencies

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