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Potentially Dangerous Prescription Drug: Bevacizumab


Bevacizumab is an FDA-approved prescription drug used to treat certain types of cancer. It’s been successful with increasing survival rates in patients. But it’s also linked to serious, even life-threatening side effects.

What Types of Cancer Does Bevacizumab Treat?

Bevacizumab (brand name Avastin) is a treatment used alone or with other drugs. It’s approved to treat:

  • Colorectal cancer that’s metastasized (spread to other parts of the body)
  • Non-small cell lung cancer in patients who have not received chemotherapy (in combination with other drugs)
  • Kidney cancer that’s metastasized
  • Glioblastoma if taken alone in adults who have seen cancer progress after other treatments have failed

What Are Some of the Possible Bevacizumab Side Effects?

Almost every medication has side effects. Doctors should thoroughly review potential risks and complications of a drug with the patient before prescribing.  

  • Hemorrhaging: Some patients vomit or cough up blood. But bleeding can also occur in the spinal cord, brain, and stomach. Some females suffer vaginal bleeding.
  • Gastrointestinal perforation: This is a hole that develops in the intestine or stomach. Signs include fever, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
  • Neurological problems: Side effects include confusion, fatigue, fainting, convulsions, headache and blurred vision. It may also be linked to a neurological disorder called reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome (RPLS). This can lead to hypertension.

Other side effects reported include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Severe high blood pressure
  • Kidney problems
  • Female fertility problems
  • Reaction to infusions (difficulty breathing, chest pain)

These risks exist when taking Avastin alone. But some of them increase when taken in conjunction with chemotherapy.

Are There Restrictions for Taking Bevacizumab?

The manufacturer warns that women shouldn’t take Avastin if breastfeeding, pregnant, or trying to become pregnant. It can cause harm to a nursing child or developing fetus.

Patients with certain medical conditions shouldn’t take Avastin. It’s important to discuss this with a doctor, who can explain which ones pose a risk. 

Those undergoing surgery shouldn’t take Avastin at least 28 days before or after the procedure, warns the manufacturer. It’s also important to wait until surgical wounds have healed before taking the medication. Otherwise, cuts during surgery may not heal or healing may be delayed.

Do I Have Any Legal Options If I Suffer Serious Bevacizumab Side Effects?

The Food and Drug Administration in 2011 revoked approval of Avastin to treat breast cancer. It found that the risks were greater than the benefits, as it was not helping women with breast cancer live longer but was putting them at risk for high blood pressure and hemorrhaging, as noted above.

If a doctor incorrectly prescribed the medication and you suffered serious side effects of bevacizumab, you may pursue a medical malpractice claim against the doctor. For example, a doctor may administer the medication a few days before or after surgery, despite warnings from the manufacturer.

Discuss possible medical malpractice claims with your attorney. Your lawyer may also discuss possible claims against a manufacturer if it negligently failed to warn of a serious side effect of the drug, or if it improperly marked the drug. Much will depend on the circumstances of your case.

Set up an appointment for free legal consultation from Hensley Legal Group by calling (317) 472-3333 or contact us online.