New Trial Shows Drugs are Effective for Diabetic Macular Edema

 Diabetes is a significant risk factor for developing eye diseases. The most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness is diabetic retinopathy.  Americans with diabetic retinopathy have diabetic macular edema (DME) in which fluid leaks into the macula, the area of the retina used when looking straight ahead.  Over the past few years, drugs that target VEGF have become a standard treatment for DME, providing a preferred alternative or adjunct to laser treatment. The standard Medicare per-injection costs of the three anti-VEGF drugs evaluated in the study are about $1960 for aflibercept (Eylea), $1200 for ranibizumab (Lucentis) and $70 for bevacizumab (Avastin).

In the first clinical trial directly comparing three drugs most commonly used to treat diabetic macular edema, researchers found one drug, aflibercept, provided greater improvement for people with more severe vision loss when treatment was initiated. “The results clearly remove any doubts about anti-VEGF drugs’ efficacy in treating DME. All three drugs improved vision substantially, with aflibercept showing more visual gains in patients with worse vision at the start of the trial.

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