Kaduna Avastin Patients: Senate Ad-hoc Committee Visits National Eye Centre

By: Mayen Etim

KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – Following the recent story of 10 patients of the National Eye Centre Kaduna who were alleged to have gone blind after being administered with Avastin (Bevacizumab) drug, the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Thursday, visited the Centre on fact finding mission.

The Committee led by its Chairman, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, Edo South Senatorial District, after listening to the Chief Medical Director, Doctors, Pharmacist and the patients, commended the professional procedures adopted by Management of the Hospital in handling the 10 patients after the drug was administered on them.

He disclosed that the committee was in Kaduna based on a motion moved on the floor of the house that 10 patients of the Centre lost their sight when injected with the said drug.

According to him, this is a very strong allegation that could not be swept under the carpet, hence, the Senate President; Ahmed Lawan constituted an Ad-hoc Committee with a time frame of two weeks to find out what transpired.

He said; “These things happen in medical science, we are not here to punish anybody or blame anybody, but we want to know what actually happened so that we can prevent reoccurrence of this ugly incident.

“We got here to find out that the 10 patients that got the injection are not blind, are no more blind but are regaining their sight gradually and that the drug that was administered on them have been in use for many years. In fact, it has been administered to 2,113 patients.

“So we are taking it back that we have seen them, they are in good condition and are improving. Of course the drug that was used if there is anything, is analysis that will show whether something went wrong. The patients just had inflammation, which condition have been established.

A cross section of the 10 patients who regained sight during interactive session with Senators at the National Eye Centre Board Room.

“That inflammation could have come from maybe infection of the drug itself or wrong preservation or such like. So until we get the result we will not be able to say exactly what happened.

“Let me also clear one misconception, the Senate didn’t banned the use of Avastin, it was only suspended and from what we have seen here 2,113 patients have used this drug in this hospital in the past and there was no problem,” he said.

Welcoming the 7-man Senate Committee, the Chief Medical Director, (CMD), of the hospital, Dr. Mahmoud Alhassan said on May 27, 2019 eleven (11) patients scheduled for intravitreal injection were examined.

He said that some of the patients had co-morbid ocular conditions including glaucoma; adding that they were either hypertensive, diabetic or both.

Speaking on the drug, Dr. Alhassan said Avastin is a drug that has been proven to be effective in management of several eye diseases in addition to its use as an anti-cancer drug.

“A day after the procedure, one of the patients returned complaining of pain and visual deterioration.

Committee’s one-on-one discussion with patients.

“The other ten (10) patients who had intravitreal injection were recalled, along with patients that had other procedures in the same theatre suite.

“All the patients who had intravitreal injection were admitted and had corrective procedures and happily some have regained their vision while others are recuperating as they await Secondary procedures for visual restoration.

“One patient left against medical advice after he underwent a retinal procedure,” said.

Some of the patients who spoke to Daily News Precise said they have regained their sight but still under medication.

However, one of them, Mr. Isaac Yakubu who is a diabetic patient said he has not regained his sight, and was assured by the hospital management that he would regain his sight.

Other senators who interacted with the patients include; Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe from Kwara State and Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah.

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