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    CATT study raises questions

    Unanswered questions about bevacizumab for wet AMD.

    Image of older guy holding a pair of glasses and looking thoughtfully at the camera

    Foundation reviews evidence

    The Macular Degeneration Foundation has today reviewed the results of the CATT study. This study was designed to compare two drugs Lucentis® (ranibizumab) and Avastin® (bevacizumab) used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (‘Wet AMD’).

    The MD Foundation is the peak organisation in Australia representing the macular degeneration (MD) community and welcomes and supports all research that can ultimately help patients in the treatment of disease.

    The comparison of AMD Treatments Trials (CATT) has just been published online in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The Chair of the MD Foundation Medical Committee Dr Paul Beaumont stated today that “the CATT study indicates that ranibizumab (Lucentis) and bevacizumab (Avastin) produce similar visual acuity outcomes for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, however bevacizumab may be less effective in reducing the retinal swelling that occurs with this disease. More research is needed to determine if this will adversely affect longer term outcomes.

    “There are still unanswered questions regarding the safety of bevacizumab. There were more serious systemic adverse events in the bevacizumab group including more hospitalisations over the study period.

    “The numbers of deaths, heart attacks and strokes which followed treatment were low, with similar numbers occurring in each treatment group. Unfortunately, CATT did not have enough patients to determine whether there were any meaningful differences in these serious but rare side effects.”

    It is imperative that we never compromise safety and this why the registration and reimbursement of drugs in Australia is evidence-based pertaining to both efficacy and safety. There are of course, specific circumstances whereby drugs are used off label and this must always be on a case by case basis in discussion between doctor and patient. The most appropriate treatment for patients with wet AMD currently approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration remains ranibizumab. 2

    Foundation CEO, Julie Heraghty stated “proven safety and efficacy should be the main concerns of any treatment. The MD Foundation’s national medical committee, which comprises leading retinal specialists from around Australia, believes that it is important to put this high profile study into context and encourage frank and open dialogue between patients and doctors about all treatment options and potential risks.”

    Posted: 1 November 2011

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