NIH to run head-to-head comparison of Lucentis and Avastin

WASHINGTON The National Institutes of Health on Friday announced that it was starting a head-to-head trial of two of Genentech’s drugs, Lucentis and Avastin, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Lucentis is approved to treat an eye disease known as we age-related macular degeneration. Avastin is approved to treat breast, metastatic colorectal and non-small cell lung cancers. But, Avastin has been prescribed off-label by physicians to treat the macular degeneration, which occurs when abnormal blood vessel growth harms or destroys part of the eye. Avastin is sold at a fraction of the cost of Lucentis.

The study, funded by the National Eye Institute, will involve 1,200 patients who will either receive a monthly Lucentis or Avastin during an initial one-year treatment period. Patients will then be broken into additional treatment groups for the second year and will be treated with either drug on a varying schedule.

The study, known as CATT, or comparison of AMD treatment trials, will be conducted at 47 clinical centers. Study results are expected in 2011.

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