Off-label AMD therapies

November 28, 2007

What are doctors using off-label to treat their AMD patients?

                                       

Avastin (Genentech): Anti-VEGF

Avastin (bevacizumab) is a recombitant humanized, full-length, anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody that binds all isoforms of VEGF-A. Although it is currently only approved for the treatment of colorectal and lung cancer, it is being widely used, off-label, for treatin wet AMD.

In May 2007, the Italian Pharmaceutical Agency (AIFA) announced the reimbursement of Avastin for the treatment of exudative maculopathy and neovascular glaucoma. As such, the agent, which has not been approved for this indication, would be fully reimbursed for use in Italian patients. Click here to read two experts opposing view of this decision.

The manufacturers of Avastin, Genentech, are now trying to prevent the drug being used off-label in the US by restricting sales to independent compounding pharmacies, which divide vials of the drug into smaller portions for use by ophthalmologists. This decision has caused uproar among US retina specialists.