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Certain new therapies for age-related eye disease do not appear to increase heart risks
Date:10/11/2010

Newer treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD)including an intravitreous (into the eye) injection of a chemotherapy drug and use of a related compound approved for use against the eye diseasedo not appear to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular complications or death when compared with existing therapies, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"More than 1.5 million older Americans have age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older patients," the authors write as background information in the article. Of these, 12 percent have neovascular disease, which occurs when new blood vessels form in the eye and accounts for more than 80 percent of cases of severe vision loss. Before June 2006, there were two approved therapies for this condition, both of which slow vision loss but usually do not improve visual acuity: photodynamic (laser) therapy in combination with the photosensitizing medication verteporfin, and eye injections with pegaptanib octasodium, a nucleic blocking abnormal blood vessel growth.

By the fall of 2005, ophthalmologists began treating AMD with the cancer drug bevacizumab, an antibody that also blocks blood vessel growth. In June 2006, ranibizumaban antibody fragment with a similar mechanismwas approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of AMD. "In chemotherapy regimens, bevacizumab is associated with an increased risk of thromboembolic events," when a blood clot forms and travels through blood vessels, potentially causing a stroke or heart attack, the authors write. "However, intravitreous bevacizumab is administered at a dose of 1 to 2.5 milligrams, 150 times less than the systemic dose. Despite the regulatory approval of ranibizumab, off-label use of bevacizumab continues, likely because of the cost difference ($1,950 per dose of ranibizumab vs. $30 per dose
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Contact: Debbe Geiger
Debbe.Geiger@duke.edu
919-660-9461
JAMA and Archives Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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