Lucentis has become the drug of choice for treating wet macular degeneration. Approved in 2006 by the FDA as a treatment for wet macular degeneration, there are still may patients who question the safety of a drug designed to be injected directly into the eye.
Lucentis or ranibizumab is a prescription drug designed to treat wet macular degeneration. Unlike the drug Avastin, Lucentis is an FDA approved treatment that is specifically developed for the treatment of wet macular degeneration.
Lucentis is designed for ophthalmic intravitreal injections only. It is typically designed to be used once a month (every 28 days), and is to be administered directly into the eye in doses of 0.5 mg of 0.05 mL. After the first four injections, the frequency of treatments with Lucentis may be reduced to once ever three months, but it will reduce the overall benefit of the drug.
The drug is safe for intravitreal injections but there are some warnings that patients must be aware of. If the patient has an eye infection in or around the eye, Lucentis should not be used.
There are other more serious side effects that can occur as well.
Endophthalmitis,a serious eye infection can occur with the injection of this drug into the eye. As well, during clinical studies, some patients experienced a retinal detachment, while others developed cataracts. These side effects are rare with the use of Lucentis.
Some patients have experienced an increase in eye pressure within one hour of the injection. Because of this, patients should be monitored for up to a week after injections by eye care professionals. After injection, it is important for patients to report redness of the eye, senstitivity to light, eye pain, or any changes of vision.
The most common eye-related side effects with using Lucentis included redness in the eye, eye pain, small pecks in the patients vision, the feeling that something was in the patients eye and increased tears. The most common non-eye related side effects were high blood pressure, nose and throat infection and headaches.
There have been no drug interaction studies conducted by GenenTech, the company that manufactures Lucentis. However, this drug was used in conjuction with verteporfin photodynamic therapy (PDT). Of the 105 patients treated with PDT and Lucentis, 11 percent developed serious intraocular inflammation. In a majority of these patients, this occurred within 7 days of after verteporfin PDT.
Patients should also be aware that it is not known whether Lucentis can cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women. It is also not known if this drug can impact or have any affect on reproduction capacity. Genentech indicates that Lucentis should only be given in pregnant women only if it is clearly needed. Plus, it is not known if Lucentis is excreted in human milk and nursing mothers should exercise caution if prescribed the drug.
The safety and effectiveness of Lucentis in pediatric patients has not been established. However, 94 percent of the patients in the clinical study was over the age of 65, making this drug safe for geriatric patients. There was no notable difference in the drug seen as the age of the patient increased.
Yes, Lucentis is a safe treatment for wet macular degeneration, but patients should still be educated about the many side effects and possible dangers of using the drug.