Avastin (bevacizumab) and Lucentis (ranibizumab) were compared in a double-masked, randomized controlled trial. Lucentis is the preferred macular degeneration treatment and is approved by the FDA. Avastin is an off-label macular degeneration treatment and was originally approved to treat colo-rectal cancer.
Until this recent study, there was no data supporting which macular degeneration drug was effective.
In this study, the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System funded a study where patients were enrolled by a 2 to 1 randomization to either the Avastin or Lucentis treatment. Patients were given intravitreal injections of either Avastin or Lucentis every month for the first three months of the trial and evaluated after the third injection to determine if subsequent macular degeneration treatments were required.
It was shown that at six months, there was no difference in those patients treated with Avastin or Lucentis.
This adds fuel to the debate over which of the two drugs should be used to treat macular degeneration. Genentech refused to conduct any trials of Avastin as a macular degeneration treatment stating that Lucentis is the FDA approved treatment for the eye disease.
However, Avastin costs approximately $40 per treatment while Lucentis costs approximately $2000 per treatment. With some patients requiring multiple injections to treat their macular degeneartion, the costs associated with Lucentis treatments can be enormous.