AVASTIN AND LUCENTIS
WHAT IS INTRAVITREAL INJECTION, WHICH IS MEANT FOR TREATING THE “WET” FORM OF AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION (AMD)?
A layman would call it an “injection into the eye” and it reality is an injection into the carefully selected spot in the eyeball. The injection is performed under local anesthesia so it does not hurt. Not including the time needed for pupil dilatation, the intravitreal injection takes only two minutes.
HOW IS THE TREATMENT WITH SUCH INJECTIONS BEING PERFORMED?
In case of AMD a series of injections is being administered, once a month. Then the progress of treatment is being checked with the OCT test and the future treatment is planned. OCT test (Optical Coherence Tomography) is a ultra-modern and non-invasive method of examining tissues inside the eye. Often this will end the series of injections. After that periodic medical supervision and perhaps additional injections will be necessary. At times, the patient needs to continue to receive the injections but usually at larger intervals.
IS IT TRUE THAT AVASTIN – THE MEDICINE USED FOR OPHTHALMOLOGICAL INJECTIONS IS IN FACT A CANCER DRUG?
Yes, and it is still an effective drug used in oncology. And since its effectiveness in cancer treatment was proven to be high, other possibilities for its use have been sought. American ophthalmologists started to use it 6 years ago and practice has shown that it has been effective. Ophthalmologists from various countries note its high efficiency both in treating the “wet” form of AMD, the diabetic retinopathy, some forms of glaucoma and diabetic macular edema. It has similar effect to a much more expensive drug – Lucentis.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE TWO DRUGS?
Both have similar chemical composition and eventually similar effect. Lucentis is a smaller molecule obtained from a bigger Avastin. The effect of both Avastin and Lucentis is based on sealing and blocking the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Lucentis was approved in the USA in 2006 and Avastin has been used there off-label already since 2004.
The research results from the Queen’s University Belfast published in 2013 in a prestigious surgical journal “Lancet” (two-years trial) confirmed the results of previous American studies stating that the effect of both these drugs is very similar. Click here to view more tu and tu.
WHEN AVASTIN AND WHEN LUCENTIS SHOULD BE USED?
There is no easy answer to this question. The depth of once pocket plays a big part here. Some people believe that if one of the drugs does not work, applying the other one can bring the desired result. Due to the very similar composition of both drugs, their effectiveness is similar. Every person responds differently to drugs. Hence the need for different measures for the same disease. There is a lot of hope placed in new, alternative drugs such as Eylea (which we also have been using in Retina since June 2013).