CLEVELAND, April 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study published online today in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) shows bevacizumab (Avastin) is as effective as ranibizumab (Lucentis), the current Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The results are from the landmark "Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials" (CATT) study, a pioneering comparative effectiveness trial made possible through funding by the National Eye Institute.
"For years, ophthalmologists have been using intravitreal bevacizumab to treat neovascular AMD without data regarding efficacy and safety from well-controlled studies," said Daniel F. Martin, M.D., study chair for CATT and chairman of the Cole Eye Institute at Cleveland Clinic. "Patients and clinicians can now feel confident that bevacizumab is therapeutically equivalent to ranibizumab."
Derived from the same protein as bevacizumab – a well-known anti-cancer drug - ranibizumab was developed to block blood vessel growth in AMD patients. In 2005, two Genentech-sponsored clinical trials established ranibizumab as highly effective for the treatment of wet AMD. During the year between the announcement of the trial results and the release of ranibizumab, ophthalmologists began injecting AMD patients with low doses of bevacizumab due to its similarity to ranibizumab and its availability. One dose of ranibizumab costs approximately $2,000, while bevacizumab costs about $50 per dose. Both drugs are manufactured by Genentech.
Comparative effectiveness trials like (CATT) are necessary to the practice of evidence-based medicine, providing rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options that are available for treating a given medical condition for a particular set of patients.
Although funded with $1.1 billion through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, there remains insufficient infrastructure f