Forty lots of Avastin injection syringes, a drug used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, are being recalled by a compounding pharmacy in Georgia after reports that at least five patients developed eye infections from using the drug.
The Augusta, Georgia-based compounding pharmacy Clinical Specialties, Inc. distributed the personalized injection drugs starting December 18 of last year to doctors’ offices in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Indiana.
Compounding is the science of creating pharmaceutical drugs to fit the certain requirements of a patient. It is basically making personalized medicines for patients.
The reported infections were from off-label use of the drug and appeared to be limited to a single clinic in the Georgia area, said pharmacist Austin Gore, who runs the pharmacy.
“We don’t know the cause,” said Gore.
The kind and the seriousness of the latest eye infections are still unknown. Officials from the United States Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals back in August 2011 regarding the dangers of using repackaged injections of Avastin. The medicine is actually for treating cancer and known by its generic name bevacizumab.
The warning from the FDA came after at least a dozen individuals who used the tainted drug developed eye infections, including some who went blind. Four other patients from Tennessee also developed eye infections at the time.
The Georgia pharmacy has sent notifications regarding the product recall to all doctors’ offices currently using the Avastin injections.
The Avastin solution for IV injections, manufactured by the biotechnology corporation Genentech, is FDA-approved to treat various cancers. Many individuals, though, have frequently used it off-label to treat macular degeneration since Avastin costs about $50 per injection while Lucentis, the Genentech drug approved to treat the eye disease, costs around $2,000 per injection.