Beware of cheap cancer drugs, they could be fakes from Bangladesh


  • India is importing illegal cancer drugs worth ₹300 crore from Bangladesh.
  • The illegal medicine market is thriving due to their dirt cheap prices in comparison to approved drugs.
  • Osimertinib by AstraZeneca which costs around ₹2 lakhs per dose can be bought for ₹4,500 per dose in the grey market.
  • As many as 100-120 patients are consuming copies of Osimertinib/Afatinib.
The exorbitant price of cancer drugs has turned India into a thriving market for spurious drugs. This racket is being run by smugglers who are sourcing them from Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries.

An estimated 12% of patients could be consuming fake medicines, an oncologist told the Times of India. Since these drugs are smuggled, they are neither tested not approved. Their dangerous combinations could pose a serious threat to patients.

“A majority of these medicines have been manufactured by companies from Bangladesh. They are made only for exports,” an expert said. A few pharma companies from Bangladesh are targeting patients and doctors across the border via chemists located near cancer hospitals, suggested Journal of Medical Sciences.

India has always been a thriving grey market of fake and unapproved drugs mostly -- liver and cancer drugs. It has been estimated that the grey market is expected to be worth ₹300 crore, as per experts.

Drug Name Original price per doseFake price per dose
Ibrutinib ₹436,000₹23,500
Osimertinib₹204,435₹4,500
Crizotinib₹106, 270₹22,000
Palbociclib ₹95,000₹6,800
Tafocitinib₹66,344₹3,200

The illegal medicine market is thriving primarily due to their dirt cheap prices as compared to licensed drugs. For instance, Osimertinib by AstraZeneca which costs around ₹2 lakhs per dose can be bought for ₹4,500 in the grey market.

There are at least 100-125 cancer patients consuming copies of Osimertinib/Afatinib. The quality packing of the drugs makes it impossible for the buyer to distinguish between the original and fake medicines. However, these fake medicines lack barcodes and batch numbers since they do not comply with international norms, said the report citing an oncology expert.

See also:
Fortis, Apollo and other top hospitals are spending a lot of what they charge — most of which is going to doctors
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