Pending the release of result of the test being conducted on Avastin injection by the management of the National Agency for Food and Drug, Administration and Control (NAFDAC), it is uncertain if the use of Avastin Injection would still be allowed in the country.
Indications emerged from the Senate deliberations on Wednesday that the said drug has blinded the eyes of 10 patients of the National Eye Centre, Kaduna, who visited the hospital for eye treatment.
According to a PremiumTimes report, the Senate has asked NAFDAC to suspend the use of the injection, following a motion sponsored by Aishatu Dahiru and seven other senators.
Dahiru, who argued that Avastin injection was meant for cancer treatment, said the same drug was being used at the National Eye Centre, Kaduna, for eye treatment. She further made reference to the report of The New York Times on August 31, 2011, on the use of the injection, which made patients lost their eyes after it application as eye treatment.
Avastin was described as a drug used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is also used to treat diabetic eye disease and other problems of the retina. It is injected into the eye to help slow vision loss from these diseases.
However, the senator narrated how 10 patients visited the Centre in Kaduna on May 28 unaided to complain of poor eyesight due to cataract and other minor ailments. But shockingly, the lawmaker said the patients went blind after taking an eye injection at the centre.
The report reads in part: “According to her, investigation confirmed that the 10 patients went blind after they were given Russian-made Avastin injection, resulting to the patients being affected in both eyes, while the remaining six victims lost one eye each.
“After the unfortunate incident, NAFDAC waded in and took the drug for a test but so far the result is still awaited. If this can happen in a government medical facility like the National Eye Centre, Kaduna, then it should be a matter of urgent national interest to look into the supplies of drugs in this country with emphasis on what our hospitals administer, to whom, preservation and expiration.
“The victims were still under the care of the hospital as at 2nd July, 2019 (thirty-three days after the incident) with little or no improvement. The harrowing experience of the victims are disheartening and a cause of worry by all and sundry. Therefore, mechanisms must be put in place to checkmate the anomalies in our health sector with the aim of correcting them and avoiding future recurrence,” she said.
In his own contribution, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, pleaded with the Federal Ministry of Health, NAFDAC, and other regulatory bodies to ensure adequate regular post-market surveillance to assure Nigerians of the efficacy of all drugs.
He has however constituted a seven-member ad hoc committee to carry out a holistic investigation on the use of the Avastin injection for the purpose of eye treatment.
The committee will be chaired by Matthew Uroghide, while members are Ibrahim Oloriegbe; Sabi Abdullahi; Chimaroke Nnamani; Aishatu Dahiru; Ajayi Borrofice; and Bala Na’Allah.