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The scary side effects of Avastin


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Genentech, Inc., manufacturer of the lung and colon cancer drug Avastin has informed doctors via letter that its off-label use for treating wet macular degeneration, a potentially blinding eye condition, has been linked to reports of serious eye inflammation.

Informing doctors, Genentech says 36-reports of adverse intraocular inflammatory reactions have been received from four different sites in Canada , following unapproved usage of low medication doses injected in to the eye.

Avastin (bevacizumab) approved in 2004 helps treat non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer in combination with chemotherapy, inhibiting tumour growth by preventing new blood vessels which nourish tumors from forming.

While, doctors are free to use Avastin for 'off-label' purposes, it does not have the approval of FDA for treating eye conditions like wet macular degeneration. However, Lucentis, structurally and functionally similar to Avastin, also sold by Genentech in the United States and Novartis AG in Europe is approved for treating the eye condition.

A potentially blinding eye condition, wet and dry macular degeneration occurs when new blood vessels form under the retina causing hemorrhaging, scarring, swelling and loss of central vision loss.

Also linked to other safety worries, according to FDA documents some of Avastin's serious side effects, include cardiovascular problems, bowel perforations, even death of a patients.

An analysis of 15-clinical trials involving nearly 8,000 patients by researchers at Stony Brook University Cancer Centre in New York last month, reveals those taking Avastin are at a higher risk of blood clots in their veins. This type of blood clot can travel to the lungs, thereby placing patients at a higher risk of death, clots already a common problem cancer patients face.

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