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Study: Avastin's Link To Blood Clots

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 11:01 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Colon Cancer, Avastin, Blood Clots, Brain Cancer, Lung Cancer, Genentech

Study in JAMA finds blood clots associated with Avastin.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ blood clot/ author: Persian Poet Gal


For those suffering from colon cancer and some lung tumors, Genentech’s Avastin is widely prescribed.

Now comes a warning that the drug is also linked to significantly higher rates of clotting in the legs and lungs.

Patients receiving Avastin were 33 percent more likely to develop blood clots than those who did not receive the drug, researchers announced after reviewing 15 clinical trials involving nearly 8,000 patients with advanced cancer. 

The review is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The blood clots were more prevalent in certain cancers.

For example, colorectal cancer patients had the highest incidence at 19.1 percent.  The lowest was for patients suffering from renal cancer at 3 percent.  Breast cancer patients had a 7.3 percent chance of experiencing blood clots.

Researcher and cancer specialist, Shenhong Wu at Stony Brook University in New York said in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, “I still think it’s a useful treatment, but for some patients with a high risk of clotting, you may have to evaluate the risks against the potential benefits.”

Avastin works on tumors by choking off their blood supply and nutrients. The label already indicates a risk for blood clots but the news could slow sales for Genentech’s top seller. Avastin brought in $2.3 billion last year.

Genentech shared dropped 20 cents before the study was made public and lost 13 cents in after-hour trading.

Genentech analyzed data from nearly 1,800 patients and also found an increased risk of blood clots in arteries, not veins.

Other dangers associated with Avastin include hemorrhage and perforations of the bowel, are also detailed on the Avastin label in a black box warning, the highest alert issued by the FDA.

Earlier this month, Genentech submitted an application to the FDA to seek accelerated approval to use Avastin as a treatment for brain cancers.  #

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