The use of Avastin to treat macular degeneration has increased throughout the eyecare world because it is a relatively inexpensive alternative to other treatments for macular degeneration. However, a new retrospective study indicates that Avastin as a treatment for wet macular degeneration is subject to decreased effectiveness the longer the drug is used.
As with other drug treatments for a variety of diseases, the body tends to become desensitized to the drug, causing it to lose its effectiveness over time. This is referred to as tachyphylaxis, and is a major problem when any drug, not just Avastin, is used for prolonged periods of time.
In this latest study of Avastin as a treatment for macular degeneration, investigators examined the records of patients who had received injections of Avastin alone, an intravitreal steroid alone, or a combination of both Avastin and the steroid.
The investigators determined that the effectiveness of Avastin treatments for macular degeneration decreased, indicating that there may be a tachyphylatic response to the drug. Using a steroid in combination with Avastin was shown to partially alleviate this affect.
In the study, it was indicated that repeated injections of Avastin to treat macular degeneration appeared to be associated with decrease bioefficacy. They also concluded that when using Avastin with a steroid, the effect was lessened.
With Avastin treatments for macular degeneration costing much less than the FDA approved treatment Lucentis, this may not be great news for patients who have no coverage for the more expensive drug.