When you go for an eye treatment for worsening vision, you don’t expect the treatment to leave you blind in that eye. Yet for once the drug used for treatment doesn’t seem to be at fault, and we’re currently investigating what the problem might be.
Avastin (also known as bevacizumab) has been approved by the FDA to treat certain types of cancer. Interestingly, eye doctors have found that it’s also effective in treating eye diseases, such as the “wet” form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and some diabetic diseases. The FDA has not approved it for these uses, but doctors are permitted to use it.
And it’s had many good results, by blocking the abnormal growth of blood vessels at the back of the eye, which can leak and cause vision loss. An article at the National Institutes of Health quotes a researcher who speaks of a “dramatic and lasting improvement” in patients who have had monthly treatments.
Yet some patients have had “floaters” or dark rings in their fields of vision, redness, sensitivity, pain, eye infections, or blurry vision after treatment. Others have had even more serious problems, such as retinal swelling, detached retinas, and infections, occasionally ending in a total loss of vision in the eye.
The problems seemed to occur in clusters, and careful investigation seems to point not to the drug itself but to its handling or preparation, perhaps by compounding pharmacies. Since Avastin is normally used for cancer treatment, pharmacies sometimes repackage larger vials of the drug into smaller, very fine syringes for eye use, which are lubricated with silicone oil.
The silicone oil may be the cause of the “floaters” or bubbles, and the infections and other side effects may be related to contamination with the silicone oil, other contamination during the repackaging process, the lot of Avastin used, or other factors. One study claimed, “Freeze-thawing or other mishandling can further increase levels of particle contaminants.”
We’re investigating, to see if a class action is needed. If you have been treated with Avastin for eye problems and had problematic results, we’d like to speak to you. Please fill out the form on this page. It costs nothing to speak with an attorney and see if you might have a case.