A study, led by Dr. Daniel Martin, an ophthalmologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute, has found that the cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) offers macular degeneration patients the same benefits as the drug Lucentis (ranibizumab), which was specifically formulated to treat the disease.
“The results of our study show that Lucentis and Avastin are virtually identical, in terms of visual acuity achieved, when they’re given on the same dosing frequency,” Martin said in a press release. “For example, if you compare Lucentis given monthly versus Avastin given monthly, it’s virtually identical for visual acuity achieved in one year.”
The big difference between these two drugs is in their cost. Avastin costs about $50 per treatment compared to $2,000 for Lucentis. The study’s complete findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In 2018, National Health Service (NHS) England decided to pay for Avastin, in place of Lucentis for AMD. The drug manufacturers Bayer and Novartis pushed back, without a victory. With 40,000 new cases of wet AMD per year, the NHS could save £500m (US$652m) a year. The High Court ruled that although Avastin was developed as a cancer treatment, it is equivalent to Lucentis for AMD.
Avastin helps stop the growth of new blood vessels. Cancer tumors need blood flow to grow. The tumors grow new blood vessels. This is called “neovascularization.” Avastin assists in cutting off tumors’ energy source. Macular Degeneration also leads to the growth of new blood vessels. In its advanced stages, the “wet” form of ARMD causes choroidal neovascularization. Unwanted blood vessels grow near the macular, seriously damaging vision. Avastin injections into the eye slow down the progression of neovascularization.
In the United States, Avastin was approved by the FDA to treat metastatic colorectal cancer in 2004. Since then, the drug was approved for several other types of cancer. Therefore, Avastin for wet macular degeneration is an “off label” use of the drug in the US. Many health insurers cover Avastin prescriptions for ARMD.
Editor’s Note: This is good news for seniors who cannot afford the Medicare co-payments for Lucentis treatments.
This research was substantiated by another study:
After a year-long study, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System found no differences between Avastin and Lucentis. The research showed that neither was more effective than the other when it comes to treating wet macular degeneration.
A healthy diet and lifestyle as well as targeted nutrients in the form of quality supplements are all key for those trying to preserve vision after a macular degeneration diagnosis. For more information on ways to deal with macular degeneration, visit our website.
A healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as targeted nutrients in the form of quality supplements, are all key for people trying to preserve vision after a macular degeneration diagnosis. For more information on ways to deal with macular degeneration, visit our website.