Health authorities in Punjab, Pakistan, where the incident took place say that Avastin, a cancer drug injection made by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, say they are currently probing two distributors of the shot, which contains the active ingredient bevacizumab.
In Pakistan, bevacizumab is licensed for use in the same ways it was first approved for use in the United States back in 2004, particularly in the treatment of colon cancer. Since then, bevacizumab has been given the green light for use in treating cancers of the lung, kidneys, and brain.
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) recently gave bevacizumab the go-ahead to also be used in treating colorectal cancer and other forms of metastatic carcinomas.
(Related: Back in 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] declared that Avastin is useless against breast cancer.)
In the U.S., the FDA allows Avastin to be used off-label, but only in cases where doctors are fully knowledgeable about the product, and who can show clear evidence that off-label use of the drug for a particular application is scientifically viable.
One such off-label use that the FDA recognizes is taking Avastin for diabetic retinopathy, a serious eye disease. Keep in mind, though, that Avastin has not been approved by the DRAP for this same off-label use in Pakistan.
"The use in diabetic retinopathy is an off-label use to block the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye," DRAP officials said in a statement.
"Since this drug was being dispensed / diluted / repacked ... under unhygienic conditions and in an unapproved manner, therefore, its safety cannot be ascertained which may lead to damage and loss of vision in the patients."
According to Javed Akram, the province's Minister for Specialized Health, Pakistani police are right now questioning two men believed to be involved in the distribution of Avastin throughout the Pakistani state. The DRAP has since demanded a recall of all suspected 100-milligram injections of Avastin, which the agency believes are contaminated, and that may have been produced illegally.
"In Pakistan, the vision loss from Avastin has been identified by the authorities as a case of contamination by a third-party supplier," Roche told Reuters in a statement about the matter.
"The sale / distribution of registered Avastin injections has been put on halt till verification of its quality through sampling and laboratory testing to safeguard public health."
As Pakistani health authorities direct all health care professionals in their country to stop distributing, dispensing, and administering Avastin immediately – and to quarantine and return all remaining batches to the appropriate supplier – the general public in Pakistan is being urged not to use the cancer drug for treating any eye conditions.
"All therapeutic goods must be obtained from licensed pharmacies and other authorized / licensed retail outlets," the DRAP said. "The authenticity and condition of products should be carefully checked. Seek advice from your pharmacists or other healthcare professionals in case of any doubt."
In the comments, someone speculated that perhaps these "contaminated" Avastin injections are just another experimental drug-testing operation in disguise, just like Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) "vaccines" and Operation Warp Speed.
"Another jab, anyone?" this person further wrote.
In the first nine months following its initial approval, Avastin generated $1.7 billion for Genentech, a major seller of the drug in the United States.
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