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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Vision Channel
Reported December 14, 2012

Going Off Label: Cancer Drug Saves Sight and Money

MADISON, Wisc.  (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It is the leading cause of legal blindness in older Americans. Every year 250 thousand people in the US are treated for age-related macular degeneration.  Now, there’s more and more evidence that a cancer drug doctors have been relying on to help patients, works just as well as a much more expensive option. 

Harriet Corstvet has a passion for reading about politics.

“People don’t realize that their opinion is being swayed!”  Harriet Corstvet told Ivanhoe.

Opthalmologist, Suresh Chandra, is using an injectable colon cancer drug on Harriet to shrink vision-impairing blood vessels in her eye.  It’s not FDA approved for that, but there is growing evidence Avastin does it just as well as Lucentis, which is approved for AMD. 

“Avastin had the same visual results at the end as Lucentis,” Ophthalmologist at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Suresh Chandra, MD, told Ivanhoe.

 However, Avastin is 50 dollars a dose and Lucentis is two thousand dollars a dose.

A federal report shows in ’08 and ’09, Medicare paid physicians 1.1 billion dollars for 700 thousand Lucentis treatments and just 40 million for many more Avastin treatments.   The doctor says Avastin saves patients with co-pays a lot of money and could save people’s vision in countries where Lucentis is just too expensive.

Harriet said without it, “I would have for certain, would have been completely blind.”

Avastin and Lucentis are made by the same drug maker.  The doctor says the off-label use of Avastin has become the standard of care for AMD, but in 2011, there was concern about using the drug among some doctors.  The New York Times reports tainted doses of Avastin left 21 people blind. Dr. Chandra believes the incidents were isolated and is now under control.

More Information

Click here for additional research on Going Off Label:  Cancer Drug Saves Sight and Money

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Suresh Chandra

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at

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