Drugmaker Serono, faced with at least three different incidences of counterfeit versions of its AIDS-wasting treatment hitting the market during the past two years, on Wednesday launched a system to protect patients from being supplied with fake Serostim and help government agencies track sales of the drug. The company said the new system should allow it to track each individual box of Serostim from the manufacturer to the pharmacy and ultimately to the patient. Serono has partnered with NDCHealth Corp. to track and monitor distribution. A network of pharmacies in all major U.S. markets that met certain criteria will be the exclusive distributor of the drug.
James Sapirstein, an executive vice president at the company, said the Serostim Secured Distribution program, which had been in the works for about 18 months, should also help authorities investigating a double-billing reimbursement scam involving the drug; Serostim costs patients about $25,000 for a three-month course. "We realized that there was some fraud and abuse going on that was indicated to us by the state agencies that reimburse for drugs," Sapirstein said. "We were attempting to make sure that we had a plan in place to shut down the fraud and abuse." Serono expects sales of Serostim to hit about $100 million this year.