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Significantly Less Costly Treatment’s Efficacy Same As Pricier One For AMD, Study Confirms.

In continuing coverage, the New York Times (4/29, B4, Pollack, Subscription Publication) reports, “A drug that costs about $50 a dose is just as effective at preserving and improving vision in elderly people” with the wet form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as a drug that costs “$2,000 a dose,” according to a study sponsored by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
The Wall Street Journal (4/29, Dooren, Whalen, Subscription Publication) reports that the findings, which were published online in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday, showed that Genentech’s significantly less costly drug Avastin (bevacizumab injection) works just as well as the company’s costly Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) at treating AMD. The findings will also be presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting on Sunday, May 1.
According to the AP (4/29), the study also shows that patients with AMD, which “can lead to blindness,” can be treated “less often” with Avastin, “sparing them a lot of pain” as well as expense. “Anyone wanting to use Lucentis now will have to justify its cost to insurers and policymakers,” wrote Dr. Philip Rosenfeld of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami wrote in an accompanying editorial .
MedPage Today (4/28, Phend) pointed out that those in the 1,161-patient clinical trial who received “monthly intravitreal injections of bevacizumab gained 8.0 letters of visual acuity after one year, compared with an 8.5-letter gain for those receiving ranibizumab,” according to the study. Notably, monthly costs “averaged $595 for bevacizumab and $23,400 for ranibizumab.”
The Los Angeles Times (4/29, Cevallos) “Booster Shots” blog notes that the two drugs “might pose slightly different” side-effects. “Serious adverse events, largely hospitalizations, were seen in 24% of Avastin patients compared with 19% of Lucentis” patients. Although, the study authors said that many “factors could explain the difference in rates,” considering that “earlier Avastin studies have suggested potential risks as well, the side-effects issue is one to watch.”
The study is also covered by the Boston Globe (4/29, Kotz), the Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer (4/29, Tribble), the Fox News (4/29) “Body & Mind” column, Reuters (4/29, Steenhuysen), and the Financial Times (4/29, Jack, Subscription Publication).