(12/31/12) - A colon cancer treatment may help prevent some types of blindness.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of legal blindness in older Americans.
There is already a successful drug approved to treat it, but this colon cancer drug is proving to be an equally effective - but far less expensive - option.
Harriet Corstvet has a passion for reading about politics. "People don't realize that their opinion is being swayed!"
But age-related macular degeneration has made it difficult to enjoy.
"And it's just absolutely maddening," she said.
Ophthalmologist 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 that Avastin does it just as well as Lucentis, which is approved for AMD, recently released results of a two year clinical trial show.
"Avastin had the same visual results at the end as Lucentis," Chandra said.
But Avastin is $50 dollars a dose Lucentis is $2,000 a dose.
A federal report shows in '08 and '09, Medicare paid physicians $1.1 billion for 700,000 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 says without it, "I would have for certain, would have been completely blind."
Avastin and Lucentis are made by the same company.
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