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New hope for macular degeneration

Rating

3 Star

New hope for macular degeneration

Our Review Summary

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common and potentially devastating eye disorder. There are two major types of AMD, “dry” and “wet”. “Dry” AMD is by far the more common type, but it progresses very slowly. “Wet” or neovascular AMD, is less common, but the onset is very sudden and can progress quickly to blindness. The recent FDA approval of the drug Lucentis and the publication of two studies on Lucentis in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine bring new information to patients with neovascular AMD. While the clinical trial results are promising, the extremely high cost of the drug (around $2000 a month) may be unaffordable for many patients and could place a great strain on Medicare, which would cover 80% of the cost. Furthermore, there are currently no studies showing how Lucentis compares to a very similar drug, Avastin, which is not approved for used in AMD, but is frequently used off-label for the condition and which costs much less. This story does a decent job of describing the new developments, but missed an opportunity to explain the controversy surrounding the use of Avastin.

The story clearly states that Lucentis was recently approved by the FDA. The story should have been more clear that the approval was for neovascular, or “wet”, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and not the more common “dry” form of AMD. The story does states that the cost of the drug is about $2000 a month. However, the story should have provided more context by comparing this cost to the cost of other treatments for AMD. The story could have been more clear about the difference between the “wet” and “dry” forms of the disease.

Although the story mentions two studies, this is not enough information on the strength of the available evidence. Specifically, there have been no studies comparing the effectiveness of Lucentis to Avastin. The story provides estimates of benefit for the drug group only. The story should have given the estimates of benefit for both the drug group and the control group. Furthermore, the story only quotes one expert. The story should have quoted other researchers or clinicians who could provide more context.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does states that the cost of the drug is about $2000 a month. However, the story should have provided more context by comparing this cost to the cost of other treatments for AMD.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story provides estimates of benefit for the drug group only. The story should have given the estimates of benefit for both the drug group and the control group.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does mention side effects, such as inflammation, infection, and detached retina.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story mentions two studies, this is not enough information on the strength of the available evidence. Specifically, there have been no studies comparing the effectiveness of Lucentis compared to Avastin, another drug that is commonly used off-label to treat AMD.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

By accurately describing the prevalence and seriousness of AMD, the story avoids disease mongering. However, the story could have been more clear about the difference between the “wet” and “dry” forms of the disease.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story only quotes one expert. The story should have quoted other researchers or clinicians who could provide more context.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any of the existing treatments, such as Avastin or laser therapy, although it does list preventive strategies, such as smoking cessation and treatment of hypertension.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that Lucentis was recently approved by the FDA. The story should have been more clear that the approval was for neovascular, or “wet”, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and not the more common “dry” form of AMD.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that Lucentis is a new drug. The story should have mentioned that a very similar drug, Avastin, has been used in the same manner for a few years.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

There is no way to know if the story relies on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 5 of 9 Satisfactory

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