In the street of Serpis number 8, Valencia, hidden in the vicinity of the university avenue Blasco Ibanez, is the Valnefron Clinic. You can barely see a door and a white aluminum window with opaque windows. If you do not look carefully at a small and sober poster the size of a folio, you could not know that it is a private hemodialysis clinic.
Possibly ignore that the center has been active for more than 40 years and belongs to a German multinational provider of sanitary material. On March 8, 2016, 248 units of Aranesp, a drug used to treat anemia caused by kidney failure, were stolen in the same clinic.
The active substance in this drug is darbepoetin alfa, a synthetic substitute for erythropoietin (the hormone responsible for the creation of red blood cells). This medication is also known as “EPO” and is one of the most used substances in sports doping to increase physical performance.
Almost three weeks later, the Spanish Agency of Medicines (AEMPS) alerted the Medical Association about the possible reintroduction of stolen lots in the market. From the Valnefron Clinic declined to give details about what happened during that incident.
It is not an isolated case. In the last four years, 222 similar incidents have been reported to the AEMPS. Of these, 37 robberies and 126 drug misplacements occurred in Spanish territory.
This information, obtained through a request for information through the Transparency Law, responds to a communication protocol for incidents related to medicines to prevent their diversion to illicit traffic.
Since 2014, the AEMPS has been calling for closer collaboration between the actors of the pharmaceutical distribution chain, health authorities and law enforcement agencies to report any theft, loss or suspicious behavior.
This database also records 39 robberies that occurred in other member states of the European Union such as Italy, Belgium or Portugal. In another 20 incidents, the place of theft is unknown.