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Bevacizumab Is Effective and Safe in Macular Degeneration

Linked to improvements in visual acuity, low rate of serious ocular adverse events in AMD

FRIDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Bevacizumab (Avastin) appears to be a safe and efficacious alternative to standard care for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a study published June 10 in BMJ.

In a prospective, double-blinded, multicenter study, Adnan Tufail, M.D., of the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London, and colleagues randomized 131 patients with wet AMD to bevacizumab (1.25 mg, three loading injections at six-week intervals followed by further treatment if necessary) or standard care (photodynamic treatment with verteporfin for predominantly classic type neovascular AMD, or intravitreal pegaptanib or sham treatment for occult or minimally classic type neovascular AMD).

The researchers found that 32 percent of patients receiving bevacizumab injections gained 15 or more letters from baseline visual acuity at one year, compared with 3 percent of patients undergoing treatment with standard care. In addition, a significantly greater proportion of patients receiving bevacizumab lost fewer than 15 letters of visual acuity compared to those undergoing standard care (91 versus 67 percent). The researchers also found that bevacizumab was associated with a low rate of serious ocular adverse events.

"These findings help to alleviate concerns raised recently by several small retrospective studies, which suggested that bevacizumab might be associated with a higher risk of subretinal bleeding," writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

The pharmaceutical division of Moorfields (Moorfields Pharmaceuticals) is involved in the repackaging of bevacizumab for intraocular use for sale to other institutions. Several study and editorial authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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