The diabetic macular edema (DME) drug Eylea (aflibercept) was proved to provide greater visual improvement than Avastin (bevacizumab) or Lucentis (ranibizumab), a recent study found. This applies to a starting vision of 20/50 or worse. Nevertheless the 3 drugs mentioned above led to similar average improvement whenever starting vision was 20/40 to 20/32.
The study was conducted by the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network, funded by the U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI), and was published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to the NEI, roughly 750,000 Americans currently suffer from diabetic macular edema. This condition can affect people with a type of diabetes-related eye disease, which is called diabetic retinopathy. Actually the DME is among the most common reasons for visual loss that may affect the 7.7 million Americans who are suffering from diabetic retinopathy. This condition usually occurs whenever abnormal blood vessels in the retina start leaking into the central area of the retina thus causing distorted vision.
“The results certainly seem to suggest here that if you have 20/50 vision or worse, you would certainly consider Eylea as the preferred drug,”
Dr. John A. Wells, a retina specialist in West Columbia, S.C., who was the chairman of the study, explained.
Among patients with the baddest vision, 67 % in the Eylea group noticed an improvement of about 15 letters, or three lines on an eye chart, which is undoubtedly a meaningful progress. Only 50 % of the ones treated with Lucentis, along with 41% treated with Avastin, admitted to have gained that much vision.
Moreover the study also found that patients getting Eylea eventually ended up needing fewer injections and less backup treatments, like lasers.
Dr. Frederick L. Ferris III, the clinical director of the NEI and also a study co-author, explained that their findings proved all the studied drugs to be effective, but nevertheless these public results can aid guide the medical care in a manner that’s based on evidence as well.
As far as Medicare allowable charges are concerned, the costs of each drug per injection dose used in the study were $1,960 for Eylea, $70 for Avastin, and $1200 for Lucentis. But keep in mind the fact that during this one year-long study, the participants on Avastin and Lucentis received about 10 injections, while the ones on Eylea received only 9.