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Avastin is as effective as Lucentis in treating wet age related macular degeneration, study finds

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 23 July 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4678
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Off-label use of an anticancer drug has been found, by a UK trial, to be as effective as a much more expensive and specially formulated treatment that is licensed and recommended for wet age related macular degeneration.

The two year trial, funded by the Health Technology Assessment Programme of the National Institute for Health Research, found that ranibizumab (Lucentis) and bevacizumab (Avastin) were equally effective in treating neovascular or wet age related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in older adults. At least 23 000 diagnoses of wet age related macular degeneration are made in UK older people each year, and without treatment two thirds of these people will experience severe sight loss within two years.

Ranibizumab and bevacizumab were developed by Genentech, which became part of Roche.1 Novartis has the licence for ranibizumab outside the United States. Bevacizumab was developed as an anticancer drug that works by inhibiting the growth of blood vessels.

Ranibizumab, with a different molecular structure but similar mode of action, was developed …

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