Analysis Shows Risk of Perforated Stomach or Bowels Rises Sharply With Use of Cancer Drug

By May 29, 2009Dangerous Drugs

In a meta-analysis of 17 studies, researchers have found that the cancer drug Avastin substantially increases the risk of developing holes in the stomach and intestines, U.S. News & World Report said May 25. Researchers looked at 17 studies of Avastin, none of which have proven a significant association between the drug and perforations in the gastrointestinal tract. However, in their analysis, the researchers at Stony Brook University Cancer Center in New York found that patients were twice as likely to develop perforations when they took Avastin, and that the rate of perforations went up as the dosage did.
Avastin (bevacizumab) is approved in the United States to treat several types of cancer. In fact, the FDA in early May approved the drug for treatment of brain cancer. It attacks cancerous tumors by preventing new blood vessels, which keep cancer tissue alive, from forming. In the Stony Brook study, researchers looked at 17 studies involving nearly 13,000 patients who received Avastin along with chemotherapy. Those who received 2.5 milligrams of Avastin were 61% more likely to develop perforations than those not taking Avastin. At twice that dose, 5 milligrams, patients were 167% more likely to develop a perforation. The risk was highest in patients with coleorectal and renal cancer and lowest in those with pancreatic cancer.
Perforations in the stomach and bowels are a serious and potentially life-threatening medical emergency. When these holes develop, they allow stomach acids, food and feces to leak from the organs where they belong into the abdomen. This leads to a bacterial infection of the abdomen called peritonitis. Patients feel abdominal pain that gets worse when they move, nausea, vomiting and sometimes fever. Doctors generally must perform surgery to close the hole and wash away the matter that leaked.
As a Missouri prescription drug injury attorney, I am disappointed to learn that there’s accuracy to reports of Avastin’s dangers. This is the first strong evidence connecting Avastin to stomach and bowel perforations, but other studies have turned up evidence for the association. In fact, the drug was approved for use in breast cancer patients over the objections of the FDA’s own panel of experts. Avastin didn’t seem to prolong lives, they argued, so those and other side effects may not be worthwhile. Nonetheless, it was approved and now carries a black box warning, the strongest available, about its potential to cause gastrointestinal problems.
If you are taking Avastin and you believe it’s responsible for holes in your digestive tract that led to a medical emergency, you should call The Lowe Law Offices as soon as possible. People should never be injured or killed by prescription drugs that are supposed to help. If the drug’s manufacturer failed to warn patients and the public about this risk, patients who were harmed have the right to sue the drug manufacturer for all of their physical, financial and emotional injuries. That includes the cost of more medical care and all other costs related to the injury, as well as the physical pain, emotional trauma and any death or disability caused by the defective drug.
Based in St. Louis, the Lowe Law Offices is a national law firm specializing in representing people who were hurt by dangerous prescription drugs or lost a loved one. Our Illinois defective drug lawyers represent people in the Midwest and around the United States. And we offer free, confidential consultations, so you risk nothing to learn more about your rights and any potential case. To set up an appointment with an experienced dangerous prescription drug attorney, please contact us online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400 today.