GLENDALE, Ariz. (KNXV) — A Valley family is coming forward with their heartbreaking story of their mother, who lost her battle to lung cancer just months after being given a counterfeit drug instead of her usual cancer treatment.
Betty Hunter was a vivacious, 76-year-old Arizona native who loved spending time with her family.
In 2006, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and seemed to be winning the battle against the disease.
But in May 2011, her oncologist administered what was later determined to be a counterfeit version of her cancer drug.
Betty’s family says she immediately became sick and was never the same after that. Three months later, she passed away.
“I got a phone call from my brother that my mom had collapsed on the kitchen floor,” explains Chris Lehan of Glendale, who also happens to be a nurse. “The tumor had ruptured, and she bled out on her kitchen floor.”
But that was just the beginning of what would become a three-year nightmare.
A few months after Betty’s sudden death, Chris and his wife got a phone call from the Food and Drug Administration.
“They came out and told us that the oncologist had purchased counterfeit drugs and administered them to our mom.”
And the news would later get even more shocking. Agents would later explain to Chris that his mom was given a mix of mold and water.
The FDA has since linked this case to other cases involving online pharmacy CanadaDrugs.com, a group the feds have accused of selling fake drugs.
As part of a plea deal, CanadaDrugs.com is shutting down on July 13, 2018.
Betty’s doctor was never found guilty of any wrongdoing.
Chris and his family don’t believe she knew the drugs were fake, but believe as a medical professional; she should have known better.
“That choice was taken away from her.”
Experts say you should never buy drugs online unless you can prove they’re from a U.S.-licensed pharmacy.