5 Patients Blinded After Receiving Avastin Injections

Five patients in Los Angeles were blinded after getting injections of a cancer drug sometimes used to treat eye diseases.

As The New York Times reports, it is the third episode this year of hospital patients being harmed after receiving treatment with Avastin for eye problems.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert on Tuesday about 12 patients in the Miami area who suffered eye infections — causing some to lose all of their remaining vision — after getting Avastin injections. Earlier this year,¬† four patients at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Nashville also suffered infections from bacterially contaminated Avastin, and the family of one of them has filed a suit claiming the man was blinded and suffered brain damage.

The latest incidents¬† occurred last month at a Veterans Affairs medical center in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. The Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed that it is investigating.

Avastin is commonly used to treat a form of macular degeneration and other eye diseases because it is far cheaper — $50 an injection, versus $2,000 an injection — than Lucentis, an alternative drug approved by the FDA.

That saves Medicare and patients millions of dollars, but to use Avastni for eye disease, a vial meant for a cancer patient must be divided into numerous tiny doses. The extra handling, the Times reports, increases the risk of bacterial contamination and other problems.

In its alert this week, the FDA linked the Miami cases to a single pharmacy in Hollywood, Fla., that repackaged Avastin into single-use syringes for use at eye clinics.

Avastin, made by Genentech, is a top-selling cancer drug. It suffered a previous blow over the past year when the FDA began moving to revoke its approval for using the drug to treat breast cancer.

Related Post:
Despite Pleas, FDA Panel Again Rejects Avastin for Breast Cancer Patients

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