Eyecare Tips

Federal Study Might Compare Effectiveness Of Lucentis, Avastin For Eyes

October 17, 2017

The National Eye Institute has approved in principle a study that would compare the effectiveness of Genentech's eye treatment Lucentis and cancer treatment Avastin for treating age-related macular degeneration, Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times reports. The two Genentech drugs are related compounds that block the growth of blood vessels. Lucentis costs $1,950 per dose, 100 times more than Avastin, which is approved as a treatment for a number of cancers, including colon cancer. Before FDA approved Lucentis in June, some doctors used Avastin to treat the eye disease. Frederick Ferris, clinical director for NEI, said, "There are obviously public health reasons for such a study, and [NEI] in conjunction with others is looking into how and whether we can do that. But there remains some major issues regarding funding because this is a very expensive study." Ferris added, "We are working with the study investigators and CMS and others to see if we can find a way so we can afford to do the study." Most costs for treating age-related macular degeneration are paid for by Medicare. Christopher Raymond, an analyst for Robert W. Baird, said that if Aventis proved to be an effective treatment, it might still be difficult for Medicare and other insurers to steer doctors to the drug, adding that doctors would risk liability because of the way Avastin would be administered. According to Bloomberg/Times, the study could "jeopardiz[e] almost $1 billion in estimated annual sales" of Lucentis for Genentech (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 10/3).

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View drug information on Avastin; Lucentis.