Cancer Drug Reaffirmed for Macular Degeneration

Bevacizumab and ranibizumab equal for macular degeneration second study finds

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) A second trial has affirmed that cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) is an effective cost efficient treatment for patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can lead to blindness.

The Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials (CATT) study, recently published in the Journal of Ophthalmology, also found that bevacizumab was as effective as more expensive AMD drug Lucentis (ranibizumab.) Both are administered through injections into the eye.

"Talk to an ophthalmologist about AMD treatment options."

Suresh Chandra, MD, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the finding amounts to more good news for patients.

She added that researchers also found that patients receiving monthly injections fared slightly better than a group who received them on an as-needed basis.

Both of the drugs are made by Genentech. However, bevacizumab was developed to prevent blood vessel growth that allows cancerous tumors to develop and spread. It was later approved to treat metastatic colon cancer. Ranibizumab was developed specifically as an AMD treatment, but it is considerably more expensive.

Doctors have commonly used small doses of bevacizumab as an off-label treatment for AMD.

Dr. Christopher Quinn, an optometrist with Omni Eye Associates, noted that the cancer drug remains more popular because it is just as effective but costs substantially less.

"The quantity for use in the eye is small so we have a compounding pharmacy make Avastin for use in the eye at less than $20 a dose. Lucentis costs over $2,000," Dr. Quinn said.

During the current trial, 1,208 AMD patients participated in the National Eye Institute clinical trial at the Wisconsin center. Results of the initial year of follow up recently found that both drugs were effective for treating AMD. The recently published CATT trial had released second year results.

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Review Date: 
May 22, 2012
Last Updated:
August 3, 2012