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Cancer drug "can be used for AMD"

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has beenasked by the Department of Health to investigate whether the NHS shouldstart using Avastin for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients.

Avastin is licensed for bowel cancer but is used around the world to treat people with wet AMD, which causes sight loss.

The average price per patient for Lucentis is £10,000, while the cost of treating wet AMD with Avastin has not been established.

Results from two clinical comparative trials of Avastin and Lucentis are expected to be published in late 2011 and early 2012.

Abnormal growth of blood vessels around the eye causes wet AMD which is treated by preventing vascular endothelial growth factor, which is where Avastin comes in. The drug helps stop tumour growth by not allowing new blood vessels to develop.

New research detailed in the online British Medical Journal calls for Avastin to be used in countries that cannot afford Lucentis.

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