The FDA recently approved Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) for the treatment of patients with neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lucentis is the first treatment which, when dosed monthly, can maintain the vision of more than 90 percent of patients with this type of AMD. Lucentis is a new molecular entity (NME), meaning it contains an active substance that has never before been approved for marketing in any form in the United States. Lucentis will be the first FDA–approved product to provide prescription information in the new format for prescription drug package inserts, to provide professionals and consumers clear and concise prescription information.
“This approval is of great importance for the 155,000 Americans who are diagnosed each year with AMD, a common cause of severe and irreversible vision loss in older adults,” said Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs. “At a time when our elderly population is rapidly increasing, this product preserves quality of life for those affected by this disease, helping them to regain the ability to participate in everyday activities such as reading and driving.”
AMD, a retinal disease causing severe and irreversible vision loss, is a major cause of blindness in individuals older than 55 years. Untreated, the majority of eyes affected with wet AMD may become functionally impaired. Wet AMD, which accounts for 10 percent of all AMD, is responsible for 80 percent of the associated vision loss.
The vision loss in wet AMD is caused by the growth of abnormal leaky blood vessels that eventually damage the area of the eye responsible for central vision. Lucentis is designed to block new blood vessel growth and leakiness, which ultimately lead to disease progression and such vision loss.
Lucentis, a biologic product, administered by injection into the eye, was shown to be safe and clinically effective in three multicenter, randomized studies of patients representative of the population usually affected with AMD. In clinical trials, nearly 95 percent of the participants who received a monthly injection maintained their vision at 12 months compared to approximately 60 percent of patients who received the control treatment.
Approximately one-third of patients in these trials had improved vision at 12 months. In a single study carried out for 24 months, these findings have been maintained with continued monthly dosing. The most commonly reported adverse events included conjunctival hemorrhage, eye pain, floaters, increased eye pressure and inflammation of the eye. Serious adverse events were rare and often related to the injection procedure including endophthalmitis (severe inflammation of the interior of the eye), intraocular inflammation, retinal detachment, retinal tear, increased eye pressure and traumatic cataract.
Lucentis is manufactured by Genentech, Inc. in South San Francisco, California.