Lucentis (ranibizumab) is an FDA approved drug for treating wet macular degeneration. Derived from the cancer drug Avastin, Lucentis is developed by GenenTech and is referred to as a humanized anti-VEGF antibody. Lucentis is injected inside the eye when used for treating wet macular degeneration.
Wet macular degeneration is the more severe form of this eye disease. It occurs in approximately 10 percent of all diagnosed macular degeneration cases. However, 90 percent of the blindness caused by this eye disease is associated with wet macular degeneration.
Characterized by the development of abnormal blood vessel growth from beneath the retina, wet macular degeneration results in damage to the macula. This damage results in scarring and results in the gradual but progressive loss of central vision. In some cases of wet macular degeneration the loss of vision can occur very rapidly.
GenenTech developed Lucentis as a treatment for wet macular degeneration after Dr. Phillip Rosenfeld demonstrated that Avastin could be used to successful treat the eye disease. Dr. Rosenfeld’s use of an anti-VEGF drug gave hope to both patients and researchers studying wet macular degeneration. However, with concerns over the safety of Avastin, the drug Lucentis was created and subsequently approved as an anti-VEGF treatment for wet macular degeneration.
In clinical testing o Lucentis, approximately 40 percent of the patients with the eye disease showed significant improvement in their vision (3 lines, 15 letters on an eye chart). Approximately 95 percent of the patients had their vision remain the same. Because of these results, it is even more imperative that the detection of wet macular degeneration occur early to allow treatments with Lucentis or similar drugs. Regular eye examinations are essential if people are in high risk categories.
Lucentis is a prescription drug administered through an injection in the eye. Lucentis is a treatment for wet macular degeneration that is classed as an anti-VEGF drug which stops the growth of abnormal blood vessels and in turn stops the scarring of the macula from occurring.
Lucentis does have some side effects. The side effects of using Lucentis to treat the eye disease macular degeneration can include endophthalmitis, a serious eye infection and detached retinas. Other side effects of using this macular degeneration treatment include increased pressure in the eye, redness in the eye, sensitivity to light and pain. If these symptoms occur or if macular degeneration patients notice changes to their vision, they should immediately consult their eye care professional.
Although uncommon, conditions asscociated with eye and non-eye-related blood clots may occur when Lucentis is used to treat wet macular degeneration.
Serious side effects related to Lucentis injections were rare. This included serious eye infections, detached retina and cataracts. Other uncommon side effects associated with Lucentis injections included inflammation inside the eye and increased eye pressure.
The most common eye-related side effects associated with Lucentis treatments for macular degeneration included red eyes, eye pain, small specks in vision, the feeling that something is in the eye and increased tears. The most common non-eye-related side effects were high blood pressure, nose and throat infection and headaches after the injections of Lucentis.
While Lucentis is FDA approved for wet macular degeneration treatments and it has been shown to improve vision in some patients, it is important to realize individual results may vary.
The biggest criticism against both Lucentis and GenenTech is the cost of the drug. Lucentis costs approximately $1,600 – $2,000 per treatment when compared to $150 – $200 per treatment of Avastin.
Lucentis is currently the most effect drug used to treat wet macular degeneration.