Pharmaceutical International News - June 2010

Cancer Drug to Treat ARMD Eye Patients

Posted by Pharmaceutical International's Research Correspondent on 11/06/2010 - 15:55:00

Avastin could potentially become a new eye treatment drug

A low-cost bowel cancer treatment drug has the potential to benefit patients with a common eye condition, according to data put forward by scientists in the UK.

Avastin is Roche’s brand name for Bevacizumab and – as far as UK patients are concerned – is not yet approved to treat Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD).

Despite this, there is evidence to support the idea of it representing a cheaper and more effective option than the current generation of ARMD treatment drugs, as detailed in a study published by the British Medical Journal.

As a result of the study’s publication, members of the UK government have requested NICE – the National Institute of Clinical Evidence – to look into the situation further.

ARMD: Age-Related Macular Degeneration

More people aged 50 and over living in the US and Europe experience sight loss as a result of ARMD than from any other condition. Age-Related Macular Degeneration comes in two forms: dry ARMD, which is slow to progress and which affects the majority of patients, and wet ARMD, which is less common, but which takes effect more rapidly.

The BMJ ARMD study was compiled from a trial involving over 130 wet ARMD patients. The trial saw Avastin’s performance compared to that of a dedicated eye treatment drug and the end result was that the bowel cancer drug was basically “superior”.

Avastin: Eye Treatment Drug

The study did not look at Avastin in tandem with Lucentis – a drug produced by Novartis that is a popular prescription choice for ARMD patients. However, eye treatment drug trials involving these two are presently underway and due to be wrapped up in coming months. 

“Given the limitations of the...trial,  such as the small number of patients, exclusion of certain high-risk patients, the relatively short follow-up period, and treatment decision based on the availability of public funding, the strength of evidence from this trial - especially in terms of safety data - must be regarded as limited”, Novartis said.

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