Little Difference Between Roche's Avastin and Lucentis for Macular Degeneration

| About: Roche Holding (RHHBY)

By Kristi Eaton

A new study shows that a cancer drug is no different in effectiveness as a gold standard for macula degeneration. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System discovered there was no difference in efficacy between Genentech's (now Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY)) Bevacizumab (Avastin) and Ranibizumab (Lucentis) for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration after six months.

The study, which appears in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, is the first to report early outcomes of a controlled trial comparing Bevacizumab (Avastin), to the considerably more expensive Ranibizumab (Lucentis) for the treatment of exudative or wet age-related macular degeneration.

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness over the age of 50 in developed Western countries. It can come in two forms, exudative (wet) or nonexudative (dry). While dry age-related macular degeneration can lead to severe vision loss, wet age-related macular degeneration is often more visually devastating with a higher risk of blindness. The gold standard of treatment is ranibizumab, which was FDA approved for age-related macular degeneration in 2006. Bevacizumab was FDA approved for colon-rectal cancer in 2004, and has since been used worldwide as an off-label, local intravitreal treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration. Both have shown to be efficacious in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. However, it is unknown which one is more effective. Genentech, the manufacturer of both drugs, has refused to sponsor a head to head trial comparing the 2 treatments.

“Our study aimed to offer early, six-month results of a randomized, double-masked, single center clinical trial comparing the off-label use of Bevacizumab with the current gold standard Ranibizumab,” says lead author and Manju Subramanian, an assistant professor in Ophthalmology at the Boston University School of Medicine. With a total of 20 subjects and a 2:1 randomization, early results of this trial suggest that at 6 months, visual outcomes of Bevacizumab appear to be no different from Ranibizumab.”