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Off-Label Avastin Use for Wet Macular Degeneration
Date:2/25/2008

Treatment Could Save Millions Their Sight

PORTLAND, Ore., Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved Avastin for cancer of the colon and lungs. In off-label use, however, Avastin is proving itself as a "miracle drug" that's currently used by some doctors to treat other cancers, including breast, prostate, renal cell, head and neck, pancreatic, ovarian and hepatocellular.

Some ophthalmologists are also turning to Avastin for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in people over 50 years old. Wet AMD is a growing concern for aging adults. There are 200,000 new cases of the disease every year and experts project the number will increase rapidly as baby boomers age and their life expectancy increases. Experts estimate 6.3 million people will lose their vision to wet AMD by 2030. They also predict the disease will cost half a million people their sight each year.

In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow at the back of the eye and leak blood and fluids into the macula, the central part of the retina. Like a high-definition digital camera, the eye's macula picks up fine-grained pictures so you can see their detail. Untreated wet AMD rapidly causes rapid vision loss and without the macula you cannot read fine print, recognize faces or drive.

"Because wet AMD is a devastating disease that progresses swiftly, ophthalmologists want to treat it immediately," explains Dr. Skip Freedman, executive medical director at AllMed Healthcare Management, a leading independent review organization (IRO). "And there is strong medical evidence that Avastin and Luncentis are the most effective treatment for wet AMD today."

According to Freedman, both drugs bind and inactivate the growth of blood vessels in the macula. In 2006, the FDA approved Genentech's Luncentis for wet AMD. However, because Genentech researchers derived both Luncentis and Avastin from the same mo
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SOURCE AllMed Healthcare Management
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