France recommends use of off-label Avastin for AMD
- French lawmakers have recommended legalizing off-label use of Avastin (bevacizumab) instead of Lucentis (ranibizumab) to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Lawmakers cited costs as the reason to recommend Avastin over Lucentis, saying that swapping one for the other could save $273 million.
- Off-label use of Avastin has also been an issue in Italy, where the government has agreed to reimburse ophthalmologists for off-label use in AMD patients.
Both Avastin and Lucentis have a mechanism of action that involves inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF inhibitors reduce the growth of new blood vessels, including in the eyes, and thereby have the effect of decreasing growth of abnormal blood vessels in the central retina of patients with AMD.
Within the previous three years, the two drugs have been tested head to head. Results from the Comparison of AMD Treatments Trial (CATT), a two-year clinical trial, were first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2011. Researchers found that Avastin and Lucentis have “equivalent effects on visual activity when administered according to the same schedule.”
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