A Tale of Two Treatments

Age-related macular degeneration treatments equally effective

(RxWiki News) Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine found little difference in the efficacy of the treatments Bevacizumab (Avastin) and Ranibizumab (Lucentis), used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD, which can present as the wet or dry variety, ranks as the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 50. Wet AMD is more closely associated with blindness.

Ranibizumab (Lucentis, Genentech Inc.), FDA-approved as an eye injection in 2006, currently serves as the standard-bearer of wet AMD treatment. Bevacizumab (Avastin, Genentech Inc.), FDA-approved for the treatment of colorectal cancer in 2004, has also been used as an eye injection for the treatment of wet AMD. Lucenitis costs approximately $2000.00 per injection and Avastin weighs in at about $50.00 per injection.

Patients in the study were given either drug (fifteen were given Avastin and seven received Lucenitis) every month for the first three months of the analysis, followed by monthly tests. They received injections for one year as needed. Avastin patients received eight injections on average, while Lucenitis patients received about four injections each. Both groups showed an advancement in eye sight (an average improvement of 1.5 lines on the visual testing chart). One Lucenitis patient lost three lines or more of sight on the vision chart, resulting in a significant loss of vision.

Despite this variance, yearlong visual and anatomic outcomes did not indicate a significant difference between the two groups, according to lead author Manju Subramanian, MD, an assistant professor in Ophthalmology at BUSM.

Researchers said larger studies with bigger sample sizes are warranted following their analysis.

Review Date: 
January 4, 2011