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FDA Panel Recommends Halt in Use of Drug to Treat Breast Cancer

A panel of advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended halting the use of Avastin (bevacizumab from Genentech) for treating breast cancer, pointing to studies showing the medication was not effective for that purpose, the Bellingham Herald reported. The recommendation followed two days of sometimes emotional testimony from doctors, patients and advocacy groups.

"The drug will remain on the market for other cancer treatments, but the FDA's withdrawal will likely mean insurance companies won't cover it for breast cancer patients. As a result, many women won't be able to afford the treatments, which can cost up to $100,000 a year," the newspaper noted.

Approval for Avastin as a breast cancer drug was based on a study by just one manufacturer that suggested it held back cancer by about five months. Subsequent studies have not backed up this result and have also shown that Avastin use carries some serious risks, including high blood pressure, bleeding and heart attacks.

Our experienced Virginia Beach, VA-based personal injury attorneys have written extensively about the recalls of dangerous drugs. They include Avandia (rosiglitazone from GlaxoSmithKline), a widely used medication prescribed to treat Type 2 diabetes. Potentially deadly side effects of Avandia include severe chest pains, liver toxicity, congestive heart failure, stroke, vision changes, headache, back ache, anemia, respiratory infections and brittle bones in women.

Another dangerous drug is Paxil (paroxetine for GSK), a popular antidepressant prescription medication approved by the FDA back in 1993. Approval was given despite a host of alarming side effects including mood or behavior changes, feeling depressed, thoughts of suicide, panic attacks, anxiety, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, constipation and heart defects.

An FDA advisory panel has even called for the banning of oxycodone- and hydrcodone-containing painkillers such as Endo's Percocet and Abbott Laboratories' Vicodin. The narcotic analgesics raise a concern about their effects on the liver.

We are always relieved when the experts withdraw a potentially dangerous drug that has little effect on the illness it is meant to relieve. But the large number of people hurt by prescribed drugs demonstrates how some slip through the safety net.


Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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