Lucentis and Avastin are two drugs used as treatments for wet macular degeneration. There has been considerable debate over which of these two treatments is best for treating macular degeneration. Lucentis is an approved drug for the eye disease, while Avastin is an off-label treatment.
As the debate over whether Lucentis or Avastin is better for treating macular degeneration, new research recently reveals that making the choice will be much more difficult.
In a retrospective chart review published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, it appears that Lucentis or Avastin are equally effective at decreasing macular thickness and volume. Avastin appears to last longer than Lucentis.
Does this mean that Avastin is better than Lucentis when treating macular degeneration patients? Not necessarily.
Another paper published in the Graefes Archive of Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology reveals that Avastin accumulates within retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. Lucentis however, does not accumulate. Thus, the study concluded that there are substantial differences in the pharmacokinetics of these two macular degeneration drugs.
A third study published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science reported that higher does of Avastin resulted in higher cell death of photoreceptors. This study compared Avastin treatments with Macugen treatments. Lucentis was not considered as part of this study.
Researchers concluded that the destruction of photoreceptors may be important for patients suffering from a variety of eye diseases, including macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, especially if Avastin treatments were continuing for a period of time.
Other studies in whether Lucentis or Avastin is better for treating macular degeneration are continuing. The debate will continue especially since the cost of these two drugs is substantial.