New drug given green light for wet AMD treatment; listed soon on PBS

The PBS listing was announced by the federal government on 24 October.
The drug is the first fusion protein approved to treat wet AMD and delivers the benefits seen with the current standard of care but requires less-frequent injections (as little as every two months).
Clinicians say intravitreal injections markedly improve visual outcomes and prevent many Australians progressing to blindness and that fewer injections could substantially improve the quality of life for those patients and help to overcome some of the current barriers to treatment: cost, injection fatigue and waiting times.
Also, that Eylea’s second-month dosing means specialists should be able to treat more patients and reduce the burden on patients.
The drug works by trapping excess vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the eye and has a higher binding affinity for VEGF than natural receptors have.1 Trapping excess VEGF limits the growth of abnormal blood vessels and hence reduces leakage.6,7,8 Treatment is administered via intraocular injection that is initiated with three four-weekly injections, followed by one injection every eight weeks.1
Professor Paul Mitchell, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital said the inclusion of Eylea on the PBS provides patients and ophthalmologists with another effective and affordable option for treatment of wet AMD.
“As a world leader in ophthalmic care, Australia is continually at the fore of medical advances in this field, and as clinicians, we welcome the addition of new treatment options that have the potential to keep blindness at bay,” Professor Mitchell said.
AMD is Australia’s leading cause of blindness and wet AMD is the most severe form of the disease. There are over a million Australians with AMD, with one in seven people over the age of 50 affected. The condition is expected to increase significantly in line with the ageing baby-boomer population.
In June, the Macular Degeneration Foundation welcomed the Australian approval of Eylea by the TGA for the treatment of wet AMD, saying it meant the drug has been approved in Australia for safety and efficacy and that the foundation looked forward to the drug being available in Australia as soon as possible under the PBS.
The foundation worked on behalf of clients to have the federal government add the drug to the PBS as soon as possible and lodged a formal submission for that purpose.References1. EYLEA Product Information2. Taylor HR, Keeffe JE, Vu, HTV et al. 2005. Vision loss in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia;12: 565-5683. Eyes On The Future – A Clear Outlook on Age-related Macular Degeneration. Report by Deloitte Access Economics & Macular Degeneration Foundation, 20114. Browning, D.J. Kaiser, P.K. Rosenfeld, P.J. Aflibercept for Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Game-Changer or Quiet Addition? American Journal of Ophthalmology 2012;154:222-2265. Lucentis Product Information6. Papadopoulos N, Martin J, Ruan Q et al. Binding and neutralization of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and related ligands by VEGF Trap, ranibizumab and bevacizumab Angiogenesis 2012 Feb 3 [Epub ahead of print]7. Holash J, Davis S, Papadopoulos N, et al. VEGF-Trap: a VEGF blocker with potent antitumor effects. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002;99:11393-113988. Ohr M, Kaiser PK. Intravitreal aflibercept injection for neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration. Expert Opin. Pharmacother 2012;13(4):585-591

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