Roche starts phase III trials for advanced wet AMD drug
- Roche is starting to test lampalizumab in phase III trials for the treatment of geographic atrophy (GA), the most advanced form of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- More than 4.5 million people worldwide are affected by geographic atrophy and there is currently no cure.
- In a mid-stage trial, lampatizumab-treated patients experienced a 20% reduction in GA lesion progression over an 18-month period.
In the imminent phase III trial, 936 patients with GA will be evaluated to see if lampalizumab can effectively delay progression of GA. Lampalizumab, which targets complement factor D, is the first complement targeted therapy for GA that is moving into phase III studies.
If approved, lampalizumab will represent a major breakthrough for patients with GA, whose condition makes it difficult for them to read, recognize faces, and do any type of activity in low lighting.
One interesting long-term trend to keep an eye on will be doctors' off-label use of Roche's Avastin for macular degenration. A recent study found that Avastin is just as safe an effective -- but far cheaper -- than Novartis' Lucentis, but a joint marketing deal by the two firms has sapped Roche of a financial incentive to endorse its own drug for AMD treatment.