Avastin and Lucentis for Macular Degeneration, Which is Better?
It’s been a two-year, head-to-head contest—specifically, the Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials--between two often-prescribed drugs to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD): Avastin (bevacizumab) and Lucentis (ranibizumab). Now the results are in, so which one is better?
And the winner is…
Both Avastin and Lucentis have been used by physicians to treat macular degeneration, and although the drugs work in the same way, Avastin is used more often. The CATT was the first time Avastin and Lucentis had been compared directly for treatment of AMD, and it showed both drugs to be highly effective in treating this leading cause of vision loss and blindness in older Americans.
In fact, according to Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, director of the National Eye Institute, “Therapies for AMD require repeated treatment to prevent vision loss. Results of this clinical trial provide evidence that long-term treatment with either drug results in a robust and lasting improvement in vision.” The study results appear in the May 2012 issue of Ophthalmology
So how should healthcare consumers choose between the two drugs? Both drugs are administered via injection, so patients don’t have a choice in mode of delivery. The authors did note a slight difference in the results associated with when the drugs were administered.
The study compared Avastin and Lucentis using monthly dosing and as-needed dosing. At two years, monthly dosing was associated with slightly better visual acuity than did as-needed dosing, regardless of the drug.
That said, visual acuity was impressive in both groups. Maureen Maguire, PhD, the study’s principal investigator, called the improvement in vision associated with these two drugs “extraordinary,” and explained that “At two years, two-thirds of patients had driving vision (20/40 vision or better). With previous treatments, only 15 percent of patients retained similar visual acuity.”
In the study, as-needed dosing resulted in 10 fewer eye injections over the two-year period, which translated into lower cost and risk compared with monthly injections. As long as the subject of cost has come up, there is a significant price difference between the two drugs.
A closer look at Avastin and Lucentis
Avastin costs approximately $50 per injection, while Lucentis is priced about $2,000 per injection. While Lucentis has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of wet macular degeneration, Avastin has FDA approval for colorectal cancer, but treatment of AMD is a popular off-label use.