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Coauthors of The Lighthouse Project provide facts about Gadolinium Toxicity to FDA Advisory Committee
As coauthors of The Lighthouse Project, we have provided written comments about the toxic effects of gadolinium and gadolinium retention in patients with normal renal function to the FDA’s Medical Imaging Drugs Advisory Committee in advance of its September 8, 2017 meeting. We will be making a brief oral presentation during the Open Public Hearing portion of the meeting which will be held at the FDA’s White Oak Campus in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Our comments are built around the following 6 major points that we cover in making the case that the FDA needs to take action regarding the use of Gadolinium-based Contrast Agents (GBCAs) administered for contrast-enhanced MRIs.
1. Medical literature documents toxicity of gadolinium and systemic implications.
2. The Risk Factors for adverse results are many.
3. NSF-Like Symptoms in patients with normal renal function.
4. Gadolinium from GBCAs does not clear the body in a few days, or even in a few months, allowing plenty of time for the Gd ion to dissociate from the chelate.
5. Underreported Symptoms from Contrast MRIs is a serious problem.
6. There is evidence of clinical implications of gadolinium deposition.
Our detailed comments can be found here: Comments-from-Lighthouse-Project-FDA-2017-N-1957 . We also included the following supporting materials:
- Sharon’s 2012 Letter to the FDA (SWilliams-2012FDALetter-FDA-2017-N-1957)
- Our Symptom Survey of the Chronic Effects of Retained Gadolinium from Contrast MRIs (Lighthouse Symptom Survey copy for Docket FDA-2017-N-1957), and
- Our most recent report, Gadolinium Retention from Contrast MRIs in 70 Cases with Normal Renal Function – 24-hour Urine Test Results (Lighthouse 70 Case Retention Study copy for Docket FDA-2017-N-1957)
We will report back later about our experience at the FDA Advisory Committee Meeting.
Sharon Williams and Hubbs Grimm
On September 8, 2017, the FDA’s Medical Imaging Drugs Advisory Committee (MIDAC) will meet to discuss the potential risk of gadolinium retention in the brain and other body organs in patients receiving gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) for MRI procedures.
During the Open Public Hearing (OPH) portion of the meeting, 75 minutes have been allotted to interested persons to present data, information, or views, orally or in writing. The deadline for requesting time to speak has passed. However, interested parties have until September 7, 2017 to submit electronic or written/paper submissions related to the issue of gadolinium retention. Note that the Docket No. for the meeting is FDA-2017-N-1957 and it must be included on all submissions
An updated announcement about the meeting can be found here: https://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/Calendar/ucm571112.htm
CDER (Center for Drug Evaluation and Research) plans to provide a live webcast of the September 8, 2017 MIDAC meeting. Information about the web address for the webcast will be made available at least 2 days before the meeting. See the updated announcement for more information about the webcast.
The Medical Imaging Drugs Advisory Committee Meeting Briefing Document titled, Gadolinium Retention after Gadolinium Based Contrast Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Patients with Normal Renal Function, is available for download: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/Drugs/MedicalImagingDrugsAdvisoryCommittee/UCM572848.pdf
Sharon Williams and Hubbs Grimm have submitted comments and supporting materials from The Lighthouse Project at GadoliniumToxicity.com for Docket No. FDA-2017-N-1957.
On Monday, May 22, 2017, the FDA issued its second Safety Announcement about gadolinium retention in the brain. The following text is the FDA’s complete announcement.
FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA identifies no harmful effects to date with brain retention of gadolinium-based contrast agents for MRIs; review to continue
This is an update to the FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA evaluating the risk of brain deposits with repeated use of gadolinium-based contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)issued on July 27, 2015.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review to date has not identified adverse health effects from gadolinium retained in the brain after the use of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). All GBCAs may be associated with some gadolinium retention in the brain and other body tissues. However, because we identified no evidence to date that gadolinium retention in the brain from any of the GBCAs, including GBCAs associated with higher retention of gadolinium, is harmful, restricting GBCA use is not warranted at this time. We will continue to assess the safety of GBCAs and plan to have a public meeting to discuss this issue in the future.
Our recommendations for health care professionals and patients remain unchanged from July 2015 when we informed the public that we were investigating this potential risk with GBCAs. As is appropriate when considering the use of any medical imaging agent, health care professionals should limit GBCA use to circumstances in which additional information provided by the contrast agent is necessary, and assess the necessity of repetitive MRIs with GBCAs. Patients, parents, and caregivers should talk to their health care professionals if they have any questions or concerns about the use of GBCAs with MRIs. Retention of gadolinium affects only GBCAs, and does not apply to other types of scanning agents used for other imaging procedures, such as those that are iodine-based or radioisotopes.
GBCAs contain gadolinium, a type of heavy metal, that is linked to a carrier molecule. MRIs are a way to scan the body for problems such as cancer, infections, or bleeding. GBCAs are injected into a vein to enhance the quality of the MRI images of internal organs, blood vessels, and tissues, which helps health care professionals diagnose medical conditions. There are two types of GBCAs based on their chemical structures, linear GBCAs and macrocyclic GBCAs.
We evaluated scientific publications1-17 and adverse event reports submitted to FDA. Some human and animal studies looked at GBCA use over periods longer than a year. These publications and reports show that gadolinium is retained in organs such as the brain, bones, and skin. The publications show that linear GBCAs retain more gadolinium in the brain than macrocyclic GBCAs. However, our review did not identify adverse health effects related to this brain retention.
To date, the only known adverse health effect related to gadolinium retention is a rare condition called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) that occurs in a small subgroup of patients with pre-existing kidney failure. NSF is a painful skin disease characterized by thickening of the skin, which can involve the joints and cause significant limitation of motion within weeks to months. Recent publications report cases of reactions involving thickening and hardening of the skin and other tissues in patients with normal kidney function who received GBCAs and did not have NSF; some of these patients also had evidence of gadolinium retention.3, 12, 16 We are continuing to evaluate such reports to determine if these fibrotic reactions are an adverse health effect of retained gadolinium.
The manufacturer of OptiMARK (gadoversetamide), a linear GBCA, updated its label with information about gadolinium retention in various body organs such as the brain, skin, and other organs. We are reviewing the labels of other GBCAs to determine if changes are needed.
A recent review by the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) also identified no adverse health effects with gadolinium retention in the brain, but that Committee recommended suspending the marketing authorization of certain linear GBCAs because they cause a greater retention of gadolinium in the brain compared to macrocyclic GBCAs. The Committee’s recommendation is currently undergoing an appeal, which will be further reviewed by the PRAC and subsequently by the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.18
We are continuing to assess the safety of GBCAs. FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) is conducting a study on brain retention of GBCAs in rats. Other research is also being conducted about how gadolinium is retained in the body. We will update the public when new information becomes available and we plan to have a public meeting to discuss this issue in the future.
We urge patients and health care professionals to report side effects involving GBCAs or other medicines to the FDA MedWatch program, using the information in the “Contact FDA” box at the bottom of the page.
The list of approved GBCAs and References included with this FDA Communication can be found here: https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm559007.htm
The link to MedWatch can be found on the Contact FDA page.
A petition drive to Stop the Damage and Find a Cure for Victims of MRI Contrast Toxicity has been started at change.org. The toxicity comes from the gadolinium that is retained from Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents (GBCAs) administered for contrast-enhanced MRIs. We hope all of our readers will sign the petition and then tell all their friends who will sign it and then tell all of their friends. With today’s social media, we have a chance to get the attention of the FDA and other decision makers around the world.
The petition was started by MedInsight Research Institute. https://medinsight.org/ and specifically by Moshe Rogosnitzky, the co-founder and Executive Director. He is an established research scientist and medical innovator whose pioneering work has resulted in the development of new treatments for various types of cancer and auto-immune diseases. We have been in touch with Moshe since late 2015 when he first contacted us about gadolinium toxicity issues.
His blog post announcing the petition drive “What price will we pay for the FDA’s faith in Gd?” lays out his case for why various actions regarding the use of Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents are needed now. He covers many of the points we have raised and brings new insight as to why the FDA, NIH, WHO, and other organizations worldwide must Stop the Damage and Find a Cure for Victims of MRI Contrast Toxicity, the headline for the petition.
Please take action now and show your support by signing this petition at Change.org.