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Stolen Inhalers Pose Risk

The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use inhalers stolen from a Virginia warehouse after some of the pilfered medicine turned up in some pharmacies.

The stolen Advair Diskus inhalers (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol inhalation powder) were found recently—the first batch known to have hit the supply chain since the August 2009 theft. As the investigation continues, FDA officials warned the public that more of the stolen inhalers could still be on the market.

Used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the stolen medicine may itself pose a health risk, FDA experts say. The inhalers may have been stored at improper temperatures or humidity levels—or they might have been contaminated or lost potency.

More than 25,000 of the inhalers were stolen from drug maker GlaxoSmithKline’s distribution center near Richmond, Va., last year. They are set to expire in September.

FDA experts are advising anyone who uses the Advair Diskus inhaler to check the label for the following lot numbers:

  • Lot 9ZP2255 - NDC 0173-0696-00, Advair Diskus 250/50, 60 Dose
  • Lot 9ZP3325 - NDC 0173-0697-00, Advair Diskus 500/50, 60 Dose

Patients who have inhalers with matching lot numbers should discontinue use and call GlaxoSmithKline's Customer Response Center at 888-825-5249. Consumers should also contact their physicians or pharmacists to obtain a replacement.

FDA is also asking the public to report suspicious or unsolicited offers for the Advair Diskus lots in question by contacting the agency’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

FDA is committed to protecting consumers from the threat of stolen, counterfeit, and diverted FDA-regulated products such as prescription or over-the-counter medicines, medical devices, or infant formula.

This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Posted: July 16, 2010

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