Lucentis and Avastin AMD Injection Results Similar

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

AMD Injection Results Similar

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among senior citizens in the United States. “About 80-85% of AMD is of a type called “Dry Macular Degeneration” which causes a slowly progressive dimming of vision”, said Leslie Doctor, M.D. “Some cases progress to or actually commence as a more serious type of Macular Degeneration called “Wet Macular Degeneration” which is often catastrophic for patients”.

Fortunately today there are treatments for Wet AMD called VEGF Injections that provide those with Wet Macular Degeneration an effective therapeutic course if detected early enough. Lucentis is a type of VEGF Injection that had received specific FDA approval for the treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration. While Lucentis has worked very well for a great number of patients it costs some $2,000 per injection. A similar VEGF Injection called Avastin that is produced by the same manufacturer as Lucentis and is FDA approved for cancer treatments has been used “off label’ to treat Wet Macular Degeneration by many ophthalmologists-and at a cost of approximately $50 per injection. The question asked by Medicare and insurance companies is whether the two injections have similar safety and efficacy.

Researchers reporting in the May edition of the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that there was “virtually no difference” in the efficacy of Lucentis as compared to Avastin in the treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration. What is unclear is whether Avastin has a greater number of systemic side effects such as heart attack and stroke as the study size was not sufficient to determine the risk. However, another study using the Medicare database is expected to possibly address these safety concerns through detailed analysis but not through a randomized clinical trial.