Expert attacks decision in US to stop use of bevacizumab for eye condition

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 26 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6169
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

A decision by the US Department of Veterans Affairs to stop using the anticancer drug bevacizumab (marketed as Avastin) to treat wet age related macular degeneration after reports of infections apparently caused by contaminated syringes was criticised as unnecessary by a leading specialist in the eye disease.

Bevacizumab is unlicensed in the United States for treating age related macular degeneration but has been widely used because it is much cheaper and has the same mode of action as the licensed drug ranibizumab (Lucentis). At the end of August the US Food and Drug Administration reported a cluster of infections in the Miami area linked to a pharmacy in Hollywood, Florida, which had repackaged bevacizumab into syringes suitable for injection into the eye.

Patients from two Veterans Affairs hospitals—one in Nashville, Tennessee, and the other in the San Fernando valley, Los Angeles—are also reported to have become infected after injections of bevacizumab. Many lost their remaining sight; and the family of one man treated in …

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