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On February 7, 2018, researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported on the unexpected finding of gadolinium leakage into ocular structures (GLOS) in acute stroke patients after administration of a gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA). “Blood-ocular barrier disruption in acute stroke patients” by Hitomi et al. is published in the journal Neurology. Blood-ocular barriers (BOBS) protect the compartments of the eye.
NIH researchers performed baseline MRI scans with a gadolinium-based contrast agent on 167 stroke patients upon admission to the hospital and compared them to scans performed 2 and/or 24 hours later with fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) imaging. The study found that gadolinium leakage was evident on post-contrast FLAIR images in 127/167 (76%) patients. At 2 hours after administration of the GBCA, GLOS was more common in the aqueous chamber alone. At 24 hours, GLOS was present in 121/162 (75%) patients, always involving the vitreous chamber, but also affecting the aqueous chamber in 6% of cases.
The authors concluded that GLOS is common in patients with acute stroke, and delayed GLOS was a marker for chronic vascular disease. They noted that the mechanism for acute GLOS remains uncertain but may be a remote effect of acute cerebral injury on the blood-ocular barrier.
It remains unclear whether gadolinium can enter the eye in healthy people.
Gadolinium has been detected in eyes before (more…)
On December 19, 2017, the FDA issued an update to its Drug Safety Communication regarding brain retention of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) used for MRIs. Despite mounting evidence that GBCAs leave gadolinium in the brain, bones, and other tissues of all patients who undergo MRIs with contrast, the FDA has decided not to suspend the use of any GBCAs. This is in stark contrast to the actions taken by the European Medicine’s Agency and the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. Those agencies suspended the use of the linear agents Magnevist, Omniscan, and OptiMark, while requiring changes to all GBCA product labeling. The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare restricted the use of non-specific linear GBCAs only to cases where there is no alternative and it also required changes to product labeling.
In its Safety Alert, the FDA acknowledged that “linear GBCAs result in more retention and retention for a longer time than macrocyclic GBCAs”. However, the FDA concluded that “the benefit of all approved GBCAs continues to outweigh any potential risks”. This action was taken despite “reports of adverse events involving multiple organ systems in patients with normal kidney function”.
In response to the issue of gadolinium retention, the FDA is requiring several actions to alert health care professionals and patients about gadolinium retention after an MRI using a GBCA. These include requiring a new patient Medication Guide for each agent, providing educational information that every patient will be asked to read before receiving a GBCA, and taking actions that can help minimize problems. The FDA is also requiring manufacturers of GBCAs to conduct human and animal studies to further assess the safety of gadolinium-based contrast agents. Product labeling for all GBCAs must be changed to include new warnings and precautions.
Each GBCA will have a patient Medication Guide with agent specific information, and content that is required for all gadolinium-based contrast agents; the Medication Guide for MultiHance and ProHance have recently been released. The Radiology Department of each institution will create educational handouts that every patient will be asked to read before signing the consent form for his or her MRI or MRA with a GBCA.
Patients must be fully-informed about potential risks. (more…)
On November 1, 2017, Chuck and Gena Norris filed a lawsuit against 11 companies involved in the manufacture and distribution of two gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs). The $10 million lawsuit was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court by Todd Walburg of Cutter Law. While it is not the only lawsuit that has been filed recently against MRI contrast agent manufacturers, it is the first high-profile case.
Chuck and Gena Norris have brought much needed media attention to the issue of gadolinium retention from contrast-enhanced MRIs. We hope the media will continue to investigate the problems involving gadolinium-based contrast agents. We believe that Gena’s case is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gadolinium toxicity from GBCAs.
We anticipate that there will be ongoing media coverage of this story and that readers will get the most up-to-date information by doing a search of the Internet.
On September 8, 2017, after a day filled with presentations by drug industry representatives, medical professionals, FDA personnel, and people who have been affected by retained gadolinium, the FDA’s Medical Imaging Drugs Advisory Committee (MIDAC) took two important votes related to gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) and gadolinium retention.
First, MIDAC members agreed with the FDA’s plan to “revise the prescribing information for GBCAs as a class to include: a warning for retention for all GBCAs, with greater retention of all or some of the linear GBCAs compared to the macrocyclics in certain organs including the brain; recommended risk minimization steps for certain patient populations”. From the discussions, those populations appear to be pregnant women and children.
Second, MIDAC members agreed, that pending the results of a number of ongoing clinical and preclinical studies, the FDA “might request that manufacturers conduct additional studies that will inform our decisions about the need for further regulatory actions including withdrawal of approval and restriction of indicated populations”.
During his comments to the committee, Dr. Emanuel Kanal formally recommended that “the FDA encourage and/or support formal investigation” of our group. We hope that one or more additional studies will include members of our MRI-Gadolinium-Toxicity support group. We fully support Dr. Kanal’s recommendation since we believe people who have been affected by retained gadolinium can provide important data that is not available anywhere else.
During the meeting, no one disputed that gadolinium is toxic or that everyone who has an MRI with contrast retains an unknown amount of gadolinium. However, there is still disagreement about what, if any, long-term harm retained gadolinium might do to a patient, including someone who has evidence of gadolinium retention months and even years after his or her last contrast-enhanced MRI.
Until the September 8th MIDAC meeting, patients who believe they have been adversely affected by retained gadolinium have been left to their own devices to try to get their chronic health issues recognized as being caused by gadolinium toxicity and to find a way to remove gadolinium from their bodies. Hopefully, that will soon change.
The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) provided a live webcast of the September 8, 2017, MIDAC meeting. A recording of the webcast can be found at the four following addresses:
Start of Meeting to Morning Break: https://collaboration.fda.gov/p7goy94tum9/
Morning Break to Lunch Break: https://collaboration.fda.gov/p25a1oiwhqd/
Lunch Break to Afternoon Break: https://collaboration.fda.gov/p96q45ae2t3/
Afternoon Break to End of Meeting: https://collaboration.fda.gov/p1qe35bmdkj/
Hubbs Grimm and I, representing The Lighthouse Project and other affected patients, are speaker #2 in the Lunch Break to Afternoon Break video. That video includes all presentations made during the Open Public Hearing portion of the meeting.