Last month, the FDA approved Eylea (VEGF-Trap, aflibercept) for the treatment of wet macular degeneration. The new drug does not need to be injected as often as Lucentis, yet it seems that the visual improvement is the same; that is, fewer injections yield similar improvement in vision…for the first year of therapy.
Keep in mind that we are always interested in a drug’s ability to improve vision, and sustain these improvements.
This week, results from patients receiving these eye injections for a second year were reported. It was disclosed that little benefit was seen between the two drugs for the second year of treatment, i.e. the visual results were sustained and comparable.
During the second year of treatment, both drugs were given “as needed” in contrast to the first year with regimented dosing; monthly injections for Lucentis and bimonthly for Eylea.
Regeneron’s stock (Regeneron manufactures Eylea/aflibercept) apparently plummeted after the news. Wall Street seems disappointed that the the new drug may not be as cost effective nor as convenient as initially hoped.
What Does This Mean?
I think this validates the new drug. The study confirms that visual improvement is indeed achieved with Eylea and is also maintained.
Clearly, I expect that Eylea will yield the same visual results over the first year of treatment, yet requiring fewer injections. This means fewer trips to the doctors, fewer diagnostic texts, fewer rides from family and friends.
The data recently presented only confirms that Eylea works. Remember, few drugs, including Lucentis, are actually used in the same fashion as when they were FDA approved, that is, we should be happy that Eylea improves vision for the 2nd year…nothing more.
More convenience, equal results, cost savings (from fewer office visits) can be translated into improved compliance (patients willing to continue treatment) and that also means MORE patients may be willing to undertake treatment!
This is exciting!