April 27, 2011 / 6:44 PM / 7 years ago

Avastin bests Lucentis in government trial -report

CHICAGO, April 27 (Reuters) - Avastin, a cancer drug made by Roche’s ROG.VX, was about as effective as the company’s far more expensive eye drug Lucentis at preventing vision loss in people with age-related macular degeneration, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

At stake are billions of dollars in sales for Lucentis, which is sold by Novartis NOVN.VX outside the United States. Avastin costs about $50 per shot, compared to about $2,000 for a dose of Lucentis, making it a more attractive treatment if its efficacy and safety profile is similar.

The Times report cited two anonymous sources familiar with the federally-run U.S. study, who said it found that injections of Lucentis and Avastin given every four weeks had similar results after one year. Release of trial results ahead of their publication is considered a scientific and ethical breach.

Doctors often use Avastin off-label in these patients, and the results are roughly in line with what experts had expected.

Results of the trial, which is being run by the National Eye Institute, had been expected to be released on Sunday at a medical meeting and simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.[ID:nLDE73J1XO]

Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago, editing by Bernard Orr

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