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Thursday
Apr282011

Study Finds Cancer Drug Avastin May Be Cheap Alternative for Eye Disease

Banastock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Results from a study comparing Avastin (a cancer treatment drug) and Ludentis (a drug used to treat a degenerative eye disease) confirmed that the two are nearly equal in effectiveness for improving visual acuity lost as a result of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to MedPage Today.

According to the study, published online Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, patients who received monthly doses of Avastin gained 8.0 letters of visual acuity compared to an 8.5 letter improvement that Ludentis produced.

Members of the opthalmology community had much looked forward to the release of the study's findings, given the substantial price difference of the two drugs, both made by Genentech.  One dose of Avastin, approved by the FDA only for cancer treatment costs, about $50, while one dose of Ludentis, approved only for AMD, will run patients about $2,000. 

Fearing the impact such a study could have on the sales of the more expensive Ludentis, Genetech has been reluctant, MedPage reports, to fund a head-to-head trial between the two.  As a result, the National Eye Institute provided funding for the study, called the Comparison of AMD Treatment Trials (CATT).

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