Lucentis and Avastin Similarly Effective for Treating Wet AMD in Two-Year Study

May 02, 2012
The National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that second-year results from its Comparison of AMD Treatments Trial (CATT) show that Lucentis and Avastin are similarly safe and effective in halting and reversing vision loss for people with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The second-year CATT results, published on April 30, 2012, in the journal Ophthalmology, are consistent with first-year results, which were published on May 19, 2011, in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Developed by Genentech, Lucentis was FDA-approved for the treatment of wet AMD in 2006. Avastin, a cancer drug also developed by Genentech that is similar to Lucentis, is frequently prescribed as a less-expensive, off-label alternative for treating wet AMD. Typically, Lucentis costs about $2,000 per ocular injection versus $50 per injection for Avastin. Both drugs work by blocking the growth of leaky blood vessels that cause vision loss in wet AMD.

Maureen Maguire, Ph.D., principal investigator, of the CATT Coordinating Center at the University of Pennsylvania, says that two-thirds of all patients in the study had driving vision, 20/40 vision or better, at the completion of the two-year study.

The study also compared monthly and as-needed dosing of the treatments, and concluded that the former showed slightly better results than the latter. Daniel F. Martin, M.D., study chair for CATT and chairman of the Cole Eye Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, said, however, that the marginal benefit of the monthly dosing may not be worth the additional inconvenience and risk.

In an NEI news release, he stated, “Both drugs were highly effective regardless of the approach to dosing. There was slightly less vision gain with as-needed treatment. Patients seeking the small extra advantage of monthly treatment need to be mindful of the additional burden, risks and costs of monthly injections. Since as-needed dosing required 10 fewer eye injections over the course of two years and yielded similar visual results, many patients may choose this option.”

Dr. Stephen Rose, chief research officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, says that Eylea, a wet AMD treatment approved by the FDA in November 2011, should also be considered as an option. In clinical studies, injections of Eylea every other month were as effective as monthly Lucentis injections.

“The good news is that we now have three safe and effective wet AMD treatments available,” says Dr. Rose. “Patients should discuss the pros and cons of each option with their eye doctor to decide which option is best for them.”