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Avastin as Good as Lucentis for AMD Treatment

Study: Less-Expensive Avastin Treats Age-Related Macular Degeneration as Well as Lucentis

Lucentis vs. Avastin for AMD

Unlike earlier treatments, which slowed the rate at which patients went blind, both Lucentis and Avastin stop vision loss for nearly all patients and actually improve many patients' vision.

"On all measures of visual acuity, the two drugs were virtually identical," study leader Daniel F. Martin, MD, chairman of the Cole Eye Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, said at a news teleconference.

"This study is unequivocal in saying there is minimal and likely no difference between as-needed and monthly treatment," Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, director of the National Eye Institute, said at the news conference.

Moreover, the study found that neither Avastin nor Lucentis increased patients' risk of stroke, heart attack, or death -- side effects seen in cancer patients given vastly higher doses of Avastin.

So why would any doctor give a patient $2,000-a-dose Lucentis when $50-a-dose Avastin works just as well?

"When one is selecting drugs for an individual patient, cost is one of many factors, not the only one," Martin said. "In our study we describe the average patient. ... We clearly show equivalence between the two drugs, but that does not mean there are not subsets of patients who might respond better to one drug over another. At the end of the day it is a choice between the doctor and the patient."

Genentech had no role in funding, performing, or interpreting the study. Study drugs were paid for by Medicare and by the National Institutes of Health.

The Avastin/Lucentis study, called the CATT study, was published in the April 28 early online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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