Avastin Treatment Withdrawal
Avastin is a drug approved in 2004 for treating colon cancer and later several other types of growths. It acts by reducing the formation of new blood vessels that support the expansion of tumors. Subsequently in 2008 was approved for treating metastatic (spreading) breast cancer. The Food and Drug Administration has started the procedure to remove the approval for treatment of breast cancer citing a lack of benefits over the risks.
Treatment Of Macular Degeneration
For the last several years Avastin has been used as an off label alternative in treating the progressive wet form of macular degeneration (as a lower cost alternative to Lucentis). There is no indication this withdrawal will have any impact on the use of Avastin in the treatment of degeneration of the macula. Both Avastin and Lucentis are made by the same company, Genetech. The cost of Lucentis is approximately 50 times more than Avastin. Concerns have been raised in the past about the safety and efficacy of Avastin. Genetech raised the question of safety and comparability of the drugs in 2007, but some observers felt it was an action motivated by self interest. A large scale study was started in 2008 labeled the Comparison of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatments Trials (CATT). The CATT study is designed to compare the effectiveness of Lucentis and Avastin. The results are expected in early 2011. Most eye care professionals feel that the drugs are comparable and the studies will support the significant cost savings seen in using Avastin in treating macular degeneration. There do not appear to be any expectations that the safety of Avastin will be questioned.