New study fuels already heated debate – Avastin vs Lucentis
KINGSTON, ON, June 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – At the center of the debate of how
to potentially save the healthcare system millions of dollars are two
drugs used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the
leading cause of blindness in seniors. One, Lucentis, is FDA and Health
Canada-approved and costs $1,700. The other, Avastin, is used
off-label and costs one-tenth the price. Eye doctors currently use both
drugs to treat AMD and some studies have shown that they are equally
However, new research published in this month’s issue of the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, shows that Avastin has a significantly higher risk of serious
intraocular inflammation – a potentially blinding adverse event.
The research conducted by Dr. Sanjay Sharma, a professor of
ophthalmology and epidemiology at Queen’s University, reviewed 1600
consecutive cases of patients who had received either Lucentis or
The results of the study showed that patients who had received Avastin
had a 12 times higher risk of serious intraocular inflammation.
Patients who developed this adverse event frequently lost their sight.
“This is a of concern for patients receiving Avastin in the eye,” stated
Sharma – a noted AMD and health policy researcher. “It is particularly
important because many of our seniors need numerous injections – so the
risk is cumulative.”
These findings are particularly important now, as many provincial
governments are considering the use of Avastin instead of Lucentis to
help curb their spiraling costs, often citing the price differences
between the two drugs.
“If governments are going to consider switching to Avastin, we really
need to understand the overall cost to society. This means not only
looking at the differences in retail prices, but the costs of treating
those who are adversely affected, as well as the human cost of those
“At minimum we need to make patients fully aware of the risks so they
can make informed decisions.”
For the bigger picture watch Dr. Sharma’s just-released animated
whiteboard video at www.insidermedicine.com/lucentis-avastin