Treatments for Macular Degeneration
Now, there is new hope for many who once faced certain blindness due to macular degeneration. Two drugs: Avastin andnLucentis are stopping the progression of macular degeneration and in many cases restoring some lost vision. The results of these newer injectable treatments are much better than previous treatments, but patients do need to stick with the monthly injection regimen to obtain and sustain maximum results.
The anti-VEGF (anti-Vascular Endotheial Growth Factor) era has provided retina specialists the ability to offer wet AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) patients improved vision. Ranibizumab (Lucentis) is a small anti-VEGF antibody and the findings 25% to 40% visual improvement and 90% visual stabilization. Bevacizumab (Avastin) is practically identical in make up to lucentis wit the only difference being the molecules are larger in size than those in Lucentis. Avastin has not been FDA approved for use to treat wet AMD, but it has been DFDA approved to treat colon and rectal cancers. Many ophthalmologists, including those at Orange County Ophthalmologists have chosen to use Avastin for the offlabel use to treat wet AMD. The reasoning is the significant cost difference between the two. Although both drugs are manufactured by the same company, Genentech, and are anatomically the same, Avastin costs about $50 a dose, while Lucentis costs approximately $2000 per dose. Considering that both drugs require multiple treatments, the cost differential is substantial.
Both Avastin and Lucentis are covered by Medicare, but the terms of coverage can become complicated as well. Lucentis is preferred by most retinal surgeons as the molecules are smaller and easily penetrate the eye's retina and halt abnormal blood vessel growth contributing to advanced macular degeneration and scarring that causes blindness. Yet most doctors recommend monthly injections, not all injections may be covered by insurance. Avastin is a very effective alternative to those with limited or no medical insurance to get the treatment they need to save their vision.
Avastin and Lucentis have caused much controversy in the medical field, and more clinical debate, testing and FDA trials are sure to be in the future.