The National Eye Institute does love it’s acronyms. CATT is one of the more recent ones-the comparison of AMD Treatments Trials. Translated that means there is going to be a study on the two drugs already being widely used to treat macular degeneration, one of the top leading causes of blindness.
Lucentis was actually approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June of 2006 for the treatment of advanced macular degeneration based on clinical studies. Avastin is a drug similar to Lucentis not approved for use in the eye but it has become the treatment of choice in many offices due to the feeling that it is more efficacious and requires less frequent injections. This is more than a minor consideration since many people have a high level of fear for injections involving their eye and less frequent injections may translate to much higher compliance with treatment schedules. Lucentis and Avastin are both made by Genentech, Inc.
Macular degeneration is at an epidemic proportion with over 2 million Americans visually compromised. It is unfortunate that the clinical trials are coming after the drug has entered the mainstream, hopefully in the future we can have a voluntary mechanism to help translate off label use of drugs into the first layer of clinical trials when advantages become apparent early on as they have in this case.
Neither drug should be looked at as a miracle cure. Mostly there has been a slowing of progression of the wet form of macular degeneration and a small improvement in vision in about a third of the patients. Time will tell whether there is a real or perceived difference between the two drugs.
Annual preventative eye health check ups with your eye doctor are vital to early detection and treatment of conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.