Updated: Carle notifies 190 patients of eye drug recall

Updated: Carle notifies 190 patients of eye drug recall

UPDATED 9:40 p.m. Monday

URBANA — Carle Physician Group is warning 190 of its patients that they received eye injections with a drug that has been recalled by the same company involved in the national fungal meningitis outbreak.

However, only the steroid injection medication used for back and neck pain manufactured at New England Compounding Center has been implicated in the fatal outbreak.

Carle says it used only NECC's eye injection medication, Avastin.

NECC recalled all its products Oct. 6 as a precautionary measure.

The Food and Drug Administration has advised notifying any patients who received injections with Avastin purchased from NECC between mid-May and Oct. 5 because of concerns about sterility at the manufacturing site, according to Daniel Bronson-Lowe, senior infection preventionist at Carle.

"Anyone who received the injection outside that date range is not a concern," he said.

Patients who received the injections at Carle were being treated for a form of macular degeneration and are being notified by letter, Bronson-Lowe said.

Symptoms of infection from the drug would include fever, increasing pain, redness and discharge, he said.

Carle doesn't have any reason to believe anyone has been infected by the injections, but fungal infections can be slow growing, Bronson-Lowe said.

Symptoms have taken one to four weeks to develop, he said, and "they saw some that took much longer than that."

Treating macular degeneration with Avastin is an off-label use for the cancer drug, but a study published April 30 in the journal Ophthalmology comparing Avastin with the FDA-approved macular degeneration drug Lucentis found the two drugs treated the condition equally well.

Carle spokesman Sean Willliams said Avastin was also available at a lower-cost option for patients. Carle providers are now using a different macular degeneration medication that is comparable in price and effectiveness to Avastin, he said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the FDA on Monday alerted all health care providers in the state that received products from NECC to alert their patients if they fit the following criteria:

— The medication they received was shipped by NECC on or after May 21.

— The medication was any injectable product purchased from or produced by NECC, including an eye drug that is injectable or used for eye surgery, or a cardioplegic solution used for heart surgery to induce cardiac muscle paralysis.

— And the medication was administered to patients on or after May 21.

The death toll linked to the injections from the NECC steroid drug, methylprednisolone acetate, has risen to 23. Plus 294 cases of fungal meningitis and three cases of joint infections have now been linked, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The FDA on Monday also released lists of all medical facilities that purchased products from NECC and the specific products they purchased.

The list can be viewed at the FDA's website.

One local medical provider on the list, Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Skin Restoration and Laser Institute, Savoy, purchased two products, according to the FDA list. But the business' director, cosmetic surgeon Dr. G.D. Castillo, says they weren't used.

"The cortisone that we have from them was stocked because we used it for emergencies, and we haven't had any," he said.


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Montana Rowdy Dog wrote on October 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm

"The list can be viewed at http://1.usa.gov/T7a9np"  This link listed in the article does not work. Is there an updated address that can be accessed?

Mike Howie wrote on October 23, 2012 at 8:10 am
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I'm sorry that link failed. It's been fixed in the story and here it is: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/FungalMeningitis/default.htm. Thanks for pointing it out.

EL YATIRI wrote on October 23, 2012 at 7:10 am
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This is the result of "cost containment" and the decline of physician authority in their practices.  The administrators and "suits" have more authority and decision making power than the doctors.

Based on a single study they switched from Lucentis, the "gold standard" drug.  It is all about greater profits and patient interests are not well served when physicians are overruled by the corporate suits. 

Patients ought to demand that Lucentis, which is FDA approved, be used.  Off label is a red flag, and it is ludicrous that the switch was done based on a single study.