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New drug may be better than Lucentis

A story in the New York Times reports the progress of a potential new and improved treatment for wet macular degeneration. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has developed a new drug which would only need to be injected every 8 weeks for age-related macular degeneration patients. Currently, injections of Lucentis are needed every four weeks. Genentech is the manufacturer of Lucentis. Lucentis is the most effective when administered every four weeks.? The frequency of the Lucentis injections can be inconvenient for both patients and doctors. As a result, doctors often opt to give Lucentis less frequently. Even if the less frequent injections are helpful, patients must still see their doctors every month to ensure that their vision is not deteriorating. The new drug, VEGF Trap-Eye,works in the same way as Lucentis by? blocking a protein called vascular enothelial growth factor which causes blood vessels to grow and leak into the eye. In the two clinical trials which were conducted, 95 percent of the patients maintained their vision after year. In addition, patients receiving the VEGF Trap-Eye had a mean gain of 7.9 letters in one trial and 8.9 letters in the second trial. In the study of 2,457 patients, monthly injections of Lucentis were compared to injecting VEGF Trap-EYE every two months. (The first three injections of VEGF Trap-Eye were given monthly.) Because of the convenience and cost savings, VEGF Trap-Eye might cut drastically into the $2 Billion plus annual sales of Lucentis, unless doctors balk and continue injecting the similar Avastin, which often requires monthly injections but only costs $50 per dose. Regeneron and its partner,?Bayer, said they planned to apply for approval of the drug in the first half of 2011.* Andrea Schumann Staff Writer

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