More than 16 people in Miami, Nashville, and Los Angeles reportedly have contracted serious eye infections, often leading to blindness, from contaminated syringes filled with Avastin.

Avastin (bevacizumab), manufactured by Genentech, first obtained approval in 2004 for certain types of brain tumors and cancers of the kidney, lung, colon, and rectum that are metastatic, or have spread to other parts of the body. Working in conjunction with chemotherapy and given intravenously, Avastin blocks the creation of new blood cells and interferes with the growth of cancer cells.

After reviewing clinical trials, ophthalmologists, however, noted an additional, unintentional side effect in the patients treated with Avastin: a halt in, and sometimes a healing of, age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Known as the leading cause of blindness in people over 50, AMD is caused by the breakdown of the macula, the central portion of the retina.  Responsible for fine central vision, the macula is needed for functions such as reading fine print, driving a car, and recognizing faces.  AMD occurs when abnormally grown blood vessels in the back of the eye leak blood or other fluids causing distortions or blurred vision.  Avastin treats AMD by blocking the chemical that causes the abnormal vessel growth.

Yet, Avastin is not indicted for AMD, so doctors prescribe it “off-label,” or in a manner not approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), instead of Lucentis, the FDA approved drug for AMD.  Both drugs produce the same result, but Avastin cost $50 a dose while the approved drug Lucentis costs more that $1,200 a does.

Unfortunately, the typical dosage of Avastin needed for its indicated use is too large for ophthalmological uses, so it must be repackaged.  Compounding pharmacies remove Avastin from its original packaging and redistribute the medication into syringes holding smaller amounts.  Handling the medication in this manner has allowed for bacterial contamination.  When the exposed medication is used on a patient, they experience eye infections leading to worsening eyesight and even blindness.

Lloyd Mason Sylvis, 77, walked into the V.A. hospital in Nashville, Tenn., to receive an injection of Avastin to treat his AMD; he never walked out.  He contracted Streptococcus viridans from the syringe used to inject Avastin into his eye.  The virus spread from his eye to his brain.  His son Lloyd Jr., declared “He’s permanently blinded, permanently brain damaged.”  The family, on Mr. Sylvis’ behalf, is suing the VA hospital for $4 million in damages claiming negligence on the part of the pharmacy.

Have you suffered from off-label Avastin use? Any individual or the relative of an individual who has suffered due to Avastin’s side effects is permitted to file a lawsuit. The lawyers can help you determine whether you are qualified to seek compensation. You may be eligible to seek reimbursement for medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, and punitive damages (compensation granted for losses suffered).

It is essential to hire an experienced and effective lawyer who can file your case. If you need further information about the harmful side effects of Avastin or legal advice concerning personal injury matters, we invite you to contact us or to fill out our form on this website for a free case evaluation.