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Getting the focus back: There’s new hope for people with age-related macular degeneration

Rating

3 Star

Getting the focus back: There’s new hope for people with age-related macular degeneration

Our Review Summary

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a significant cause of blindness in the elderly and is becoming more common as the population ages. There are two major kinds of AMD, "wet" or neovascular and "dry." Although the "wet" form is much less common than "dry", it is much more likely to lead to blindness, which can occur very suddenly. Until recently, wet AMD was treated with lasers or phototherapy, however in June, 2006 the FDA approved the drug Lucentis for the condition. This story reports on advancements in treatment of AMD but then goes on to talk about developments in treating cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.  This review will focus on the discussion of treating wet AMD with Lucentis, which comprises the first five paragraphs of this story.

By not exaggerating the seriousness of wet AMD, the story avoids disease mongering. The story should have provided some sense of the prevalence of wet AMD, which is relatively rare compared to the more common dry AMD. The story mentions Avastin, laser treatment, and phototherapy as alternatives. The story could have provided more information on the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches. The story does mention the increased risk of strokes with Lucentis, however the story should have also mentioned risk of inflammation and infection from injection into the eye.

The story does not mention the cost of Lucentis, which is substantial, up to $2000 per injection. Since the injections need to be given monthly for an indefinite amount of time, cost is a major issue and has the potential to be a signficant barrier to obtaining the drug. The story does mention that Avastin is a much cheaper alternative, but this is not enough information on the cost of treatment.

The story does not adequately describe the strength of the available evidence, nor does it quantify the benefits of Lucentis. Finally, the story only quotes one expert and one satisfied patient who happens to be a physician. The story should have quoted other clinicians/researchers who could have provided some additional perspective.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention the cost of Lucentis, which is substantial, up to $2000 per injection. Since the injections need to be given monthly for an indefinite amount of time, cost is a huge issue and has the potential to be a signficant barrier to obtaining the drug. The story does mention that Avastin is a much cheaper alternative, but this is not enough information on the cost of treatment.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not quantify the benefits of treatment.

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

Satisfactory

The story does mention the increased risk of strokes with Lucentis. The story should have also mentioned risk of inflammation and infection from injection into the eye.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not adequately describe the strength of the available evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

By not exaggerating the seriousness of wet AMD, the story avoids disease mongering. The story should have provided some sense of the prevalence of wet AMD, which is relatively rare compared to the more common dry AMD.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only quotes one expert and one satisfied patient who happens to be a physician. The story should have quoted other clinicians/researchers who could have provided some additional perspective.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions Avastin, laser treatment, and phototherapy as alternatives. The story could have provided more information on the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches. The story should have also mentioned that Avastin isn't approved for this indication.

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

Satisfactory

The article mentions that Lucentis was approved last June for wet AMD, but doesn't tell the reader how available it is – that is, is it in widespread use?

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that Lucentis is a novel approach to treating wet AMD.

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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