More Avastin patients blinded

New York Times / September 2, 2011

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LOS ANGELES - Five more patients who were being treated with the drug Avastin for eye disease have been blinded, according to one of the patients and medical professionals.

The latest cases occurred last month at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Los Angeles.

Avastin, made by Genentech, is a cancer drug but is commonly used to treat the wet form of age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases because it costs only about $50 an injection.

To use Avastin for eye disease, a vial meant for a cancer patient must be divided into many tiny doses for injection into the eye. The extra handling increases the risk of bacterial contamination.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert Tuesday saying that 12 patients in the Miami area had suffered eye infections after being injected with Avastin. Some of the patients lost all of the remaining vision in their treated eye, the FDA said.

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