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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
Editorial – May 25, 2017
I am very disappointed and frustrated by the May 22, 2017, FDA Safety Announcement about gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs). I am beginning to wonder how many more people must be adversely affected by retained gadolinium before the FDA decides to take decisive action.
Personally, I don’t blame the FDA or radiologists for what happened to NSF patients. What happened to those patients was terrible, but I want to believe that no one knew then just how unstable the linear agents are, especially when they remain in the body for longer periods of time like they might do in renally-impaired patients. However, once the connection between NSF and GBCAs was discovered in 2006, that all began to change. No longer could the FDA and radiology community say that they didn’t know that gadolinium might be retained from MRI contrast agents or what it might do to the human body when that occurred.
From 2006 until the end of 2013, the FDA and medical community thought that only patients with severe renal problems were at risk of retaining gadolinium. Warnings were issued and action was taken to better screen renally-impaired patients and reports of new cases of Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF) dropped dramatically. However, no one seemed to be investigating what might happen when less gadolinium was retained such as what might occur in patients with “normal” renal function or eGFRs greater than 60.
Since December of 2013 and the first paper by Kanda and his colleagues, the evidence has been mounting that clearly shows that patients with normal renal function retain gadolinium in their brains, bones, and elsewhere in their bodies. This seemed to be news to the FDA and radiology community, but it was something that patients affected by gadolinium have long been trying to tell their doctors. I first brought it to the attention of the FDA in my letter of October 23, 2012. In that letter, I noted that evidence of gadolinium retention in patients with normal renal function was reported by Gibby et al. in 2004 – that was 13 years ago, and it occurred after administration of both a linear and a macrocyclic GBCA.
The published literature clearly states that “gadolinium is toxic”. The FDA has acknowledged that “all GBCAs may be associated with some gadolinium retention in the brain, and other body tissues”. So why is it okay to keep injecting the least stable gadolinium-based contrast agents into patients when it is highly likely that those people are going to retain some unknown amount of a toxic metal? Gadolinium is a toxic metal that has been found to be neurotoxic, to impair mitochondrial function, induce oxidative stress, and much more. Researchers are looking for histological changes in the brain, but what about functional changes? (more…)
The Berkeley Labs Foundation is raising $120,000 for a full-time researcher who will be dedicated to understanding and treating gadolinium toxicity.
I hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation and sharing this information with your family, friends, and doctors too.
You can find out about the fundraising effort here: http://www.berkeleylabfoundation.org/support-berkeley-lab/ Gadolinium Toxicity is the entry to the far-right and the “Donate” button is above it.
On behalf of affected patients around the world, thank you for donating! No amount is too small to give.
Full-disclosure, we are reporting on our own retention paper.
Today we have released our fourth research paper on gadolinium retention from Gadolinium-based Contrast Agents (GBCAs) administered for contrast-enhanced MRIs. The paper is titled “Gadolinium Retention from Contrast MRIs in 70 Cases with Normal Renal Function – 24-hour Urine Test Results”.
Drawing on the contrast MRI history and 24-hour gadolinium urine testing results information that we have received from members of the MRI-Gadolinium-Toxicity Support Group, we reported retrospectively on 70 cases with 120 urine test results. We are thankful to the members of our support group for being willing to share their information with us. The participants all had normal kidney function and report having symptoms of gadolinium toxicity. We believe the results reported are dramatic.
About the Gadolinium Retention Study
The number of results presented is up significantly from our last paper in 2014 when we reported on 15 cases and 40 test results. The additional data points allowed us to look at gender as a possible differentiator, but the data showed nearly identical test results for males and females. With information about the number of contrast-enhanced MRIs for each case, we were able to analyze the results in three groups: cases with a single contrast MRI, cases with 2 to 4 contrast MRIs, and cases with 5 or more contrast MRIs. Readers of this site will not be surprised that the analysis showed that for these cases, there was a discernible difference in test results based on these groupings. The 2 to 4 contrast group generally had higher levels of gadolinium in their urine for a longer period of time than those with a single contrast. Likewise, the results for the 5 or more MRIs group were higher longer than the cases in the 2-4 contrast MRIs group. This is consistent with the cumulative effect of multiple contrast-enhanced MRIs that others have reported.
We also provided the raw test results data for each case, enabling other researchers as well as patients to look at the progression of test results over time. Averages for time blocks since the last contrast MRI are also shown to help in understanding the progression of gadolinium urine levels.
A few observations regarding the test results are revealing. 21 cases had urine tests performed in the first month with results that range from 507 mcg Gd/24hr urine specimen 4 days after the contrast MRI to results around 17 mcg Gd/24hr near the end of the first month. All of the results are enumerated in the report. 8 cases had urine test results more than 36 months after their contrast MRI with results as high as 0.6 mcg Gd/24hr more than 7 years after the individual’s last contrast-enhanced MRI. There is no broadly utilized acceptable range for gadolinium in a 24-hour urine collection. Mayo Clinic has established a reference range that was recently updated to be 0.0-0.6 mcg Gd/24-hour urine specimen collected more than 96 hours after administration of a GBCA. 40 cases had urine tests in the first 3 months after their contrast MRI, with the lowest result being 1.74 mcg Gd/24hr, well above the Mayo reference range that is applicable once four days have elapsed since the contrast MRI. Simply stated the results we observed are inconsistent with the clearance times indicated on GBCA product labeling and the understanding of most researchers and clinical practitioners.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive reporting of retained gadolinium as evidenced by urine testing that is available to the public. While the methods we used do not meet the rigor of a clinical trial, and we do not know if similar results would be seen universally, we believe the consistency of the results and the lack of outliers on the low side are justification for concern. We believe that further investigation by researchers, GBCA manufacturers, and licensing agencies is warranted.
This study does not stand alone, but confirms the many recently published research papers that reported unexpected retention of gadolinium from contrast MRIs by people with normal renal function. We encourage stronger action by the FDA and others to inform patients about possible gadolinium retention from contrast-enhanced MRIs and the potential for long-term side-effects.
We urge patients, clinicians, and researchers to read the entire report and share as appropriate with your families, care-givers, and colleagues. Read the Report.
Hubbs Grimm and Sharon Williams