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FL pharmacy linked to blindness in patients

Miami Herald, September 2, 2011

A Hollywood pharmacy has been identified as the source of injection drugs that caused blindness and vision damage in a dozen South Florida patients, federal health officials said. The 12 patients in Miami-Dade and Broward counties developed infections that seriously marred their vision after getting shots of the drug Avastin in their eyes for the disease macular degeneration, said officials and attorneys for some patients. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to doctors late Tuesday saying the 12 cases had been linked to one lot of Avastin that was unsealed and repackaged into smaller, individual-dose injections by the Hollywood pharmacy. The government did not name the pharmacy Wednesday, but attorneys who filed lawsuits on behalf of seven patients said federal and state investigators linked all the cases to Avastin from Infupharma, a company that prepares special dosages of drugs. All of the suits named Infupharma as the source of the injections. An Infupharma spokeswoman said the company would not comment because it has been sued. Infupharma is headed by pharmacists Mike and Judith Rizo, corporate records show. The infections appeared in July in patients at three Miami-area physician offices that were treating the eye disease with Avastin from Infupharma, said attorney Philip Gold, who filed suit for a Miami man who went blind in his right eye.