A number of patients in the US have lost some or all of their vision in their eyes after injections of Avastin. Avastin is an eye treatment drug that cost $50 a dose rather than more expensive doses such as Lucentis.
The Department of Veteran Affairs in the US has temporarily halted use of Avastin for eye conditions while it reviews the situation. In Los Angeles the pharmacy company that was supplying Avastin to the UCLA Medical Centre decided to get out of that business, leaving the hospital without supplies forcing it to cancel patient appointments.
However, many eye doctors say the problems occur in fewer than one in one thousand injections. Avastin and Lucentis work in similar ways and both are made by Genetech. Lucentis has regulatory approval as treatment for the wet form of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of severe vision loss in the elderly and for another eye condition.
Avastin, by contrast is a cancer drug. Many eye doctors say Avastin used off-label works roughly as well whilst costing one fortieth as much. In Miami twelve patients suffered eye infections from streptococcus bacteria in July 2011 after receiving Avastin injections that came from the same pharmacy.