"Feb. 1, 2011 -- Patients treated with Avastin, a top-selling cancer medication, appear to have a 50% increased risk of dying from treatment-related adverse events compared to the use of chemotherapy alone, a new research review finds.
Gastrointestinal Perforations And Fistulae
Serious and sometimes fatal gastrointestinal perforation occurs at a higher incidence in Avastin treated patients compared to controls. The incidence of gastrointestinal perforation ranged from 0.3 to 3.2% across clinical studies. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS] From a clinical trial in patients with persistent, recurrent, or metastatic cervical cancer (Study 9), gastrointestinal perforations were reported in 3.2% of Avastin treated patients, all of whom had a history of prior pelvic radiation. Fatal outcome was reported in < 1% of Avastin-treated patients.
The typical presentation may include abdominal pain, nausea, emesis, constipation, and fever. Perforation can be complicated by intra-abdominal abscess, fistula formation, and the need for diverting ostomies. The majority of cases occurred within the first 50 days of initiation of Avastin. Permanently discontinue Avastin in patients with gastrointestinal perforation.
In Avastin clinical trials, gastrointestinal fistulae have been reported with an incidence of up to 2% in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer but were also reported less commonly in patients with other types of cancer. In a cervical cancer trial (Study 9), the incidence of gastrointestinal-vaginal fistulae was 8.2% in Avastin-treated patients and 0.9% in control patients, all of whom had a history of prior pelvic radiation. Patients who develop GI vaginal fistulas may also have bowel obstructions and require surgical intervention as well as diverting ostomies. [See BOXED WARNING, DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]
Serious and sometimes fatal fistula formation involving tracheo-esophageal, bronchopleural, biliary, vaginal, renal and bladder sites occurs at a higher incidence in Avastin-treated patients compared to controls. Uncommon ( < 1%) reports of fistulae that involve areas of the body other than the gastrointestinal tract were observed in clinical trials across various indications and have also been reported in post-marketing experience. Most events occurred within the first 6 months of Avastin therapy.
From a clinical trial in patients with persistent, recurrent, or metastatic cervical cancer (Study 9), 1.8% of Avastin-treated patients and 1.4% of control patients were reported to have had nongastrointestinal vaginal, vesical, or female genital tract fistulae.
Permanently discontinue Avastin in patients with tracheoesophageal (TE) fistula or any Grade 4 fistula. Discontinue Avastin in patients with fistula formation involving an internal organ. [See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]
Surgery And Wound Healing Complications
Avastin impairs wound healing in animal models. [See Nonclinical Toxicology] In clinical trials, administration of Avastin was not allowed until at least 28 days after surgery. In a controlled clinical trial, the incidence of wound healing complications, including serious and fatal complications, in patients with mCRC who underwent surgery during the course of Avastin treatment was 15% and in patients who did not receive Avastin, was 4%. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS]
Avastin should not be initiated for at least 28 days following surgery and until the surgical wound is fully healed. Discontinue Avastin in patients with wound healing complications requiring medical intervention.
The appropriate interval between the last dose of Avastin and elective surgery is unknown; however, the half-life of Avastin is estimated to be 20 days. Suspend Avastin for at least 28 days prior to elective surgery. Do not administer Avastin until the wound is fully healed. [See BOXED WARNING, DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]
Necrotizing fasciitis including fatal cases, has been reported in patients treated with Avastin; usually secondary to wound healing complications, gastrointestinal perforation or fistula formation. Discontinue Avastin therapy in patients who develop necrotizing fasciitis. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS]
Avastin can result in two distinct patterns of bleeding: minor hemorrhage, most commonly Grade 1 epistaxis; and serious, and in some cases fatal, hemorrhagic events. Severe or fatal hemorrhage, including hemoptysis, gastrointestinal bleeding, hematemesis, CNS hemorrhage, epistaxis, and vaginal bleeding occurred up to five-fold more frequently in patients receiving Avastin compared to patients receiving only chemotherapy. Across indications, the incidence of Grade ≥ 3 hemorrhagic events among patients receiving Avastin ranged from 0.4 to 6.9 %. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS]
Serious or fatal pulmonary hemorrhage occurred in four of 13 (31%) patients with squamous cell histology and two of 53 (4%) patients with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer receiving Avastin and chemotherapy compared to none of the 32 (0%) patients receiving chemotherapy alone.
In clinical studies in non-small cell lung cancer where patients with CNS metastases who completed radiation and surgery more than 4 weeks prior to the start of Avastin were evaluated with serial CNS imaging, symptomatic Grade 2 CNS hemorrhage was documented in one of 83 Avastin-treated patients (rate 1.2%, 95% CI 0.06%-5.93%).
Intracranial hemorrhage occurred in 8 of 163 patients with previously treated glioblastoma; two patients had Grade 3-4 hemorrhage.
Arterial Thromboembolic Events
Serious, sometimes fatal, arterial thromboembolic events (ATE) including cerebral infarction, transient ischemic attacks, myocardial infarction, angina, and a variety of other ATE occurred at a higher incidence in patients receiving Avastin compared to those in the control arm. Across indications, the incidence of Grade ≥ 3 ATE in the Avastin containing arms was 2.6% compared to 0.8% in the control arms. Among patients receiving Avastin in combination with chemotherapy, the risk of developing ATE during therapy was increased in patients with a history of arterial thromboembolism, diabetes, or age greater than 65 years. [See Use In Specific Populations]
The safety of resumption of Avastin therapy after resolution of an ATE has not been studied. Discontinue Avastin in patients who experience a severe ATE. [See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]
Venous Thromboembolic Events
Patients treated for persistent, recurrent, or metastatic cervical cancer with Avastin may be at increased risk of venous thromboembolic events (VTE).
From a clinical trial in patients with persistent, recurrent, or metastatic cervical cancer (Study 9), Grade ≥ 3 VTE were reported in 10.6% of patients treated with chemotherapy and Avastin compared with 5.4% in patients receiving chemotherapy alone. Permanently discontinue Avastin in patients with life-threatening (Grade 4) VTE, including pulmonary embolism. [See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, ADVERSE REACTIONS]
The incidence of severe hypertension is increased in patients receiving Avastin as compared to controls. Across clinical studies the incidence of Grade 3 or 4 hypertension ranged from 5-18%.
Monitor blood pressure every two to three weeks during treatment with Avastin. Treat with appropriate anti-hypertensive therapy and monitor blood pressure regularly. Continue to monitor blood pressure at regular intervals in patients with Avastin-induced or -exacerbated hypertension after discontinuation of Avastin.
Temporarily suspend Avastin in patients with severe hypertension that is not controlled with medical management. Discontinue Avastin in patients with hypertensive crisis or hypertensive encephalopathy. [See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]
Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome (PRES)
PRES has been reported with an incidence of < 0.5% in clinical studies. The onset of symptoms occurred from 16 hours to 1 year after initiation of Avastin. PRES is a neurological disorder which can present with headache, seizure, lethargy, confusion, blindness and other visual and neurologic disturbances. Mild to severe hypertension may be present. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is necessary to confirm the diagnosis of PRES.
Discontinue Avastin in patients developing PRES. Symptoms usually resolve or improve within days, although some patients have experienced ongoing neurologic sequelae. The safety of reinitiating Avastin therapy in patients previously experiencing PRES is not known. [See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]
The incidence and severity of proteinuria is increased in patients receiving Avastin as compared to controls. Nephrotic syndrome occurred in < 1% of patients receiving Avastin in clinical trials, in some instances with fatal outcome. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS] In a published case series, kidney biopsy of six patients with proteinuria showed findings consistent with thrombotic microangiopathy.
Monitor proteinuria by dipstick urine analysis for the development or worsening of proteinuria with serial urinalyses during Avastin therapy. Patients with a 2 + or greater urine dipstick reading should undergo further assessment with a 24-hour urine collection.
Suspend Avastin administration for ≥ 2 grams of proteinuria/24 hours and resume when proteinuria is < 2 gm/24 hours. Discontinue Avastin in patients with nephrotic syndrome. [See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION] Data from a postmarketing safety study showed poor correlation between UPCR (Urine Protein/Creatinine Ratio) and 24 hour urine protein (Pearson Correlation 0.39 (95% CI 0.17, 0.57). [See Use in Specific Populations]
Infusion reactions reported in the clinical trials and post-marketing experience include hypertension, hypertensive crises associated with neurologic signs and symptoms, wheezing, oxygen desaturation, Grade 3 hypersensitivity, chest pain, headaches, rigors, and diaphoresis. In clinical studies, infusion reactions with the first dose of Avastin were uncommon ( < 3%) and severe reactions occurred in 0.2% of patients.
Stop infusion if a severe infusion reaction occurs and administer appropriate medical therapy. [See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]
The incidence of ovarian failure was higher (34% vs. 2%) in premenopausal women receiving Avastin in combination with mFOLFOX chemotherapy as compared to those receiving mFOLFOX chemotherapy alone for adjuvant treatment for colorectal cancer, a use for which Avastin is not approved. Inform females of reproductive potential of the risk of ovarian failure prior to starting treatment with Avastin. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS, Use in Specific Populations]
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
No carcinogenicity or mutagenicity studies of bevacizumab have been conducted.
Bevacizumab may impair fertility. Female cynomolgus monkeys treated with 0.4 to 20 times the recommended human dose of bevacizumab exhibited arrested follicular development or absent corpora lutea as well as dose-related decreases in ovarian and uterine weights, endometrial proliferation, and the number of menstrual cycles. Following a 4- or 12-week recovery period, there was a trend suggestive of reversibility. After the 12-week recovery period, follicular maturation arrest was no longer observed, but ovarian weights were still moderately decreased. Reduced endometrial proliferation was no longer observed at the 12-week recovery time point; however, decreased uterine weight, absent corpora lutea, and reduced number of menstrual cycles remained evident.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category C
There are no adequate or well controlled studies of bevacizumab in pregnant women. While it is not known if bevacizumab crosses the placenta, human IgG is known to cross the placenta Reproduction studies in rabbits treated with approximately 1 to 12 times the recommended human dose of bevacizumab demonstrated teratogenicity, including an increased incidence of specific gross and skeletal fetal alterations. Adverse fetal outcomes were observed at all doses tested. Other observed effects included decreases in maternal and fetal body weights and an increased number of fetal resorptions. [See Nonclinical Toxicology ]
Because of the observed teratogenic effects of bevacizumab in animals and of other inhibitors of angiogenesis in humans, bevacizumab should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit to the pregnant woman justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
It is not known whether Avastin is secreted in human milk. Human IgG is excreted in human milk, but published data suggest that breast milk antibodies do not enter the neonatal and infant circulation in substantial amounts. Because many drugs are secreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from bevacizumab, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue drug, taking into account the half-life of the bevacizumab (approximately 20 days [range 11-50 days]) and the importance of the drug to the mother. [See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]
The safety, effectiveness and pharmacokinetic profile of Avastin in pediatric patients have not been established.
Antitumor activity was not observed among eight children with relapsed glioblastoma treated with bevacizumab and irinotecan. There is insufficient information to determine the safety and efficacy of Avastin in children with glioblastoma.
Juvenile cynomolgus monkeys with open growth plates exhibited physeal dysplasia following 4 to 26 weeks exposure at 0.4 to 20 times the recommended human dose (based on mg/kg and exposure). The incidence and severity of physeal dysplasia were dose-related and were partially reversible upon cessation of treatment.
In Study 1, severe adverse events that occurred at a higher incidence ( ≥ 2%) in patients aged ≥ 65 years as compared to younger patients were asthenia, sepsis, deep thrombophlebitis, hypertension, hypotension, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, diarrhea, constipation, anorexia, leukopenia, anemia, dehydration, hypokalemia, and hyponatremia. The effect of Avastin on overall survival was similar in elderly patients as compared to younger patients.
In Study 2, patients aged ≥ 65 years receiving Avastin plus FOLFOX4 had a greater relative risk as compared to younger patients for the following adverse events: nausea, emesis, ileus, and fatigue.
In Study 5, patients aged ≥ 65 years receiving carboplatin, paclitaxel, and Avastin had a greater relative risk for proteinuria as compared to younger patients. [See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
Of the 742 patients enrolled in Genentech-sponsored clinical studies in which all adverse events were captured, 212 (29%) were age 65 or older and 43 (6%) were age 75 or older. Adverse events of any severity that occurred at a higher incidence in the elderly as compared to younger patients, in addition to those described above, were dyspepsia, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, edema, epistaxis, increased cough, and voice alteration.
In an exploratory, pooled analysis of 1745 patients treated in five randomized, controlled studies, there were 618 (35%) patients aged ≥ 65 years and 1127 patients < 65 years of age. The overall incidence of arterial thromboembolic events was increased in all patients receiving Avastin with chemotherapy as compared to those receiving chemotherapy alone, regardless of age. However, the increase in arterial thromboembolic events incidence was greater in patients aged ≥ 65 years (8.5% vs. 2.9%) as compared to those < 65 years (2.1% vs. 1.4%). [See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
Females Of Reproductive Potential
Avastin increases the risk of ovarian failure and may impair fertility. Inform females of reproductive potential of the risk of ovarian failure prior to starting treatment with Avastin. Long term effects of Avastin exposure on fertility are unknown.
In a prospectively designed substudy of 179 premenopausal women randomized to receive chemotherapy with or without Avastin, the incidence of ovarian failure was higher in the Avastin arm (34%) compared to the control arm (2%). After discontinuation of Avastin and chemotherapy, recovery of ovarian function occurred in 22% (7/32) of these Avastin-treated patients. [See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, ADVERSE REACTIONS]
Last reviewed on RxList: 9/12/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Avastin Information
Avastin - User Reviews
Avastin User Reviews
Now you can gain knowledge and insight about a drug treatment with Patient Discussions.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Get the latest treatment options.