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Cheaper drug could lead to serious eye issues

A Queen's University study of two eye drugs used to treat wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) has determined the cheaper of the two could lead to eye inflammation, a potentially blinding adverse effect.

"This is a very important finding," says Sanjay Sharma (Ophthalmology and Epidemiology), a noted AMD and health policy researcher who also practices at Hotel Dieu Hospital. "It is particularly important because many seniors need numerous injections so the risk is cumulative."

AMD is the leading cause of severe visual loss and blindness in Canada. It is linked to depression, falls and higher rates of nursing home admissions.

The research reviewed cases of patients who received consecutive injections of either the more expensive or the cheaper version of the drug. Patients receiving the cheaper drug had a 12 times higher risk of serious eye inflammation and some patients also lost their sight, according to the study.

Many provincial governments are considering the use of the cheaper drug to help curb spiraling costs. The more expensive drug retails for $1,800 while the cheaper version is one-tenth of that price.


Contact: Anne Craig
Queen's University

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