Lucentis is the new drug which is claimed to be very effective in treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
It is not been approved by the FDA but is thought to replace another proven and cost effective drug. Lucentis is manufactured by Genentech and is already called the wonder drug. AMD is a chronic eye disease affecting 1.7 million Americans and a leading cause of blindness in the country.
Dr. Philip Rosenfeld, a macular-degeneration specialist in Miami said that the drug can be replaced by Avastin which has a very similar molecular structure. About 10,000 people were administered Avastin which has given very good results. Lucentis can't repair the irreversible retina damage but prevents the blood-vessel leakage in the back of the eye that causes damage. The patients suffer from distorted, wavy vision, and eventually a gap in the center of their vision. In the trails session itself Lucentis was found to have improved the patient's eyesight by at least three lines on a vision chart.
The only disadvantage is that Lucentis will cost more than 100 times as much as the temporary fix. A dose of Avastin for the eye costs about $13 whereas Lucentis cost up to $3000 for a single dose. Doctors too will most likely turn to the more expensive drug. The problem is that Avastin has not been subjected to rigorous testing for AMD, and it would take Genentech years and huge amount of money to do those tests with Avastin. Megan Pace, spokeswoman for the company said that the cost factor would be taken care of by the company and hence patients need not worry about it.