Lucentis drug can treat diabetes-related vision loss

Wed, 25 Jul 2012
The diabetes vision drug Lucentis may help restore eyesight in diabetic patients, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The injectable medication is designed to stop vision loss in diabetics but staff at the FDA say it can also improve vision in patients with diabetic macular edema - a type of blindness associated with diabetes mellitus.

In a report released on Tuesday, they said that "a majority of patients who received Lucentis achieved 20/40 vision (the level needed to read typical newsprint or obtain a driver's license)´┐Żand many reported improvements in quality of life measures".

Lucentis producer Genentech is looking to gain FDA approval to expand the vision drug's use from wet age-related macular degeneration to patients who suffer from diabetic macular edema.

If given the green light, Lucentis would become the first drug to be approved for diabetic vision loss.

Anthony Adamis, the vice president and global head of ophthalmology at Roche's Genentech unit, said such a move would provide a more effective alternative to laser treatment, which "essentially slows the rate of vision loss" but only results in "very few people" regaining vision.

A decision on the proposed new use of Lucentis is expected to be made by the FDA later this week.
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