ABCNews.com - "Two More Compounding Pharmacies Recall Drugs Over Infection Fears" - Sydney Lupkin
On Monday, Clinical Specialties recalled 79 lots of Avastin, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a cancer drug but has been used off-label to treat macular degeneration. Clinical Specialties is a small compounding pharmacy in Georgia that takes larger doses of Avastin for cancer patients and repackages them in single dose syringes for eye patients. The drug is injected directly into the inside of the eye. Avastin's manufacturer, Genentech, also makes a similar drug called Lucentis, which has been FDA-approved to treat macular degeneration but costs about $2,000 per injection. Avastin, on the other hand, costs $50 per injection. The catch is that Avastin comes in larger, more concentrated doses for cancer patients, so it has to be redosed and diluted by a compounding pharmacist or a doctor working in a sterile environment. "Somebody has to open that vial and dilute it down," said Dr. Penny Asbell, an ophthalmologist who directs the Cornea Service and Refractive Surgery Center at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, adding that that's how Avastin's "cheapness" happens.
- Dr. Penny Asbell, Professor, Ophthalmology, The Mount Sinai Medical Center