NHS-funded research says both Lucentis and Avastin have a similar effect in preventing loss of sight when used for wet age-related macular degeneration. Avastin was available before Lucentis was approved, some eye doctors began to use smaller quantities of it in the eye. It has shown some good results and is significantly cheaper than Lucentis
However there is a huge price difference with Lucentis costing about £700 an injection, and Avastin only £60. however Avastin has not been officially approved for eye conditions.
The NHS could save £84m a year by using a cheaper drug to treat a leading cause of blindness, research suggests.
Novartis, which markets Lucentis in the UK, is taking legal action against four NHS trusts for using the cheaper drug. The company says the use of Avastin – developed to treat cancer – is undermining patient safety.
There are 23,000 new cases of wet AMD each year in the UK and 70% of patients suffer severe sight loss within two years. With this in mind and Lucentis costing around the £700 mark per injection and Avastin £60 per injection the savings are obvious.
Wet age-related macular degeneration, usually called wet AMD, is a common cause of loss of vision in elderly people – each year, at least 23,000 older people are diagnosed with the condition.
Lucentis is officially approved for use in eyes, and is the treatment recommended in England and Wales by the watchdog NICE. There are 23,000 new cases of wet AMD each year in the UK and u
Roche, which owns the rights to the similar, but cheaper, Avastin, has never sought to have it approved for use in eyes, which would involve further clinical trials. However many doctors have been using Avastin at their clinical discretion.
Both drugs work by restricting the growth of blood vessels, and were originally developed by the same company. Avastin was for use in cancer, Lucentis in treating wet Age Related Macular Degeneration.
There has been no industry-funded clinical trial to compare the effectiveness and safety of Lucentis directly with the cheaper Avastin, but publicly funded research has been undertaken in both the UK and the United States.