WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is warning doctors that a compounding pharmacy is recalling dozens of lots of the Roche drug Avastin after receiving reports of eye infections among patients.
The FDA said Wednesday that Clinical Specialties of Martinez, Ga., has received five reports of eye infections from physicians who used the drug to treat macular degeneration.
The compounding pharmacy is recalling 40 lots of Avastin distributed in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Indiana since Dec. 18, the FDA said in an online posting.
Avastin is approved as a cancer drug but is structurally similar to Lucentis, another Roche drug approved for macular degeneration. For years, compounding pharmacies have repackaged Avastin into small vials for use by eye doctors who prescribe it off-label, or without FDA approval. Repackaged injections of Avastin cost about $50, compared with $1,950 for Lucentis.
A call placed to Clinical Specialties’ lead pharmacist, Austin Gore, was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Swiss drug maker Roche has tried to discourage doctors from using Avastin for such unapproved uses.
However, groups like the American Academy of Ophthalmologists say there is no detectable difference in outcomes for patients. More than half the injections given for macular generation in the United States are Avastin, according to the group.