For those who are not yet aware, Avastin is a medication used in the treatment of certain varieties of cancer. In many circles, it is best known for its notable use in breast cancer patients.
However, it is not the stunning, lifesaving results that makes that application stick out in the minds of St. Petersburg citizens, as well as the general public; it is the major failure, which prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011 to revoke their approval of the drug.
The significant action of denying continued approval of Avastin for use in breast cancer patients came after a study revealed that there were no significant advantages in participants receiving the medication as opposed to those in the control group. Furthermore, Avastin is known to produce rather disturbing side effects.
In fact, since the FDA’s decision was made, several lawsuits have been filed in response to blindness thought to be caused by the cancer treatment. Patients suffering this side effect were generally those receiving the medication, not for breast cancer, but instead as a treatment for macular degeneration. While this was common practice, the FDA never gave approval for the treatment of the eye condition.
Presently, Avastin is still used by many doctors throughout the country (including those in St. Petersburg) in the treatment of different types of cancer. It is frequently received by brain cancer patients as it is said that Avastin can cut off the blood supply to tumors, thereby slowing their progression. However, there are growing concerns given the complicated side effects of the drug and studies suggesting that the benefits are minimal.
In fact, in a recent study, more than 600 patients were divided into two groups. Both received traditional treatments, while only one group received Avastin. There was no discernible difference in lifespan between the groups, but those treated with Avastin reported far more side effects.
Nevertheless, the drug is still put to use in treatment of brain, colon, lung, and kidney cancer. The future of the drug in this country is controversial; however, it was very recently approved in Japan for the treatment of malignant glioma – cancerous brain tumors.
Many believe taking the drug away from late stage cancer patients would be depriving them of any last glimmer of hope. Avastin is generally given as a last resort, when both chemotherapy and radiation have failed.
It is important to understand that the makers of Avastin do not claim that the drug will cure cancer. The medication is given in an attempt to slow the progression so a person can have an extended life despite the presence of a cancerous tumor.
For many patients, a few extra months are well worth the troubling side effects, which can include nosebleeds, headaches, dry skin, back pain, skin inflammation, and rectal bleeding. More severe symptoms include fever, constipation, abdominal cramps, holes in the stomach or intestines, internal bleeding, and the inability of wounds to properly heal. Some patients may also experience a stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, vision complications, blindness, kidney malfunction, excessive sweating, difficulty breathing, or infertility.
Surely more studies will be done and, in the meantime, personal injury attorneys in Saint Petersburg and throughout the country will be busy defending those who have suffered as a result of the troubling side effects. If you or a loved one have been treated with Avastin and are facing life-altering complications as a result, you should speak to a personal injury attorney regarding your rights.