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Small Study Shows That Lucentis and Avastin Are Equal In Their Effectiveness For The Treatment Of Macular Degeneration

October 9, 2009

Adapted from the Boston University Medical Center

Investigators from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and the VA Boston Healthcare System have shown, at 6 months in a small group of patients, that there is no difference in efficacy between bevacizumab (Avastin) and ranibizumab (Lucentis) for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study, which appears currently on-line in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, is the first to report early outcomes of a prospective, double-masked, randomized, controlled trial comparing Avastin to Lucentis for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration.

AMD is the leading cause of legal blindness over the age of 50 in developed Western countries. It can present in 2 forms, wet or dry. While dry AMD can lead to severe vision loss, wet AMD is often more visually devastating with a higher risk of blindness. The gold standard of treatment is ranibizumab (Lucentis, Genentech Inc.), which was FDA approved for AMD in 2006. Avastin (Genentech Inc.) was FDA approved for colo-rectal cancer in 2004, and has since been used worldwide as an off-label, local intravitreal* treatment for wet AMD. Both have shown to be efficacious in the treatment of AMD, however, it is unknown which one is more effective.

This study was supported with resources and the use of facilities at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain, MA. The VA funded the cost of medications for this study. Once inclusion criteria were met, patients were given intravitreal (inside the eye) injection of Avastin or Lucentis every month for the first three months (as they began the trial, month one, and month two). Following the third injection, patients returned for monthly examination and testing and received further injections on an as needed basis for one year.

"Our study aimed to offer early, six-month results of a randomized, double-masked, single center clinical trial comparing the off-label use of bevacizumab with the current gold standard ranibizumab. With a total of 20 subjects, early results of this trial suggest that at 6 months, visual outcomes of bevacizumab appear to be no different from ranibizumab," said lead author and Principal Investigator Manju Subramanian, M.D., an assistant professor in Ophthalmology at BUSM.

Genentech Pharmaceuticals (the manufacturer of both drugs) has refused to sponsor a head to head trial comparing the 2 treatments. The open market cost of a single injection of Lucentis is approximately $2000.00. Comparatively, the cost of a single injection of Avastin for AMD is $40.00. Patients potentially undergo up to 13 injections per year, leading to a large cost differentiation for treatment of this common eye disease. The National Eye Institute is sponsoring the Comparison of AMD Treatment Trials Study (CATT Study), a multi-centered, randomized, double-masked, clinical trial designed to assess the efficacy of Avastin compared to Lucentis therapy and will be conducted in 44 clinical centers throughout the United States. Early results are expected in 2011.

*Intravitreal refers to the eye's vitreous humor between the lens and the retina.

Important note from Macular Degeneration Research, a program of the BrightFocus Foundation:

Please understand that these findings will need to be replicated by other research groups. These results were found in a small group of patients after 6 months. As noted above, the National Eye Institute is sponsoring the Comparison of AMD Treatment Trials Study (CATT Study), a multi-centered, randomized, double-masked, clinical trial designed to assess the efficacy these two drugs, and will be conducted in 44 clinical centers throughout the United States. Early results are expected in 2011. Patients are encouraged to discuss all treatment options with their eye care providers.

View all news updates for macular degeneration


Disclaimer: The information provided in this section is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we take efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

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