FDA Approves Lucentis for Diabetic Macular Edema


Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, today announced that Lucentis® (ranibizumab injection) was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME), an eye condition in people with diabetes that causes blurred vision, severe vision loss and sometimes blindness. Diabetes is now the leading cause of new cases of blindness in American adults1 and DME is estimated to affect more than 560,000 Americans with the disease.2

Lucentis is the first and only FDA-approved medicine for DME, a condition for which the standard of care has not changed significantly in more than 25 years. To date, the standard of care in the U.S. for DME has been laser surgery, which slows the rate of vision loss and helps stabilize vision, but has demonstrated only limited ability to restore lost vision.3

“For the first time, Americans with diabetic macular edema will have access to an FDA-approved medicine shown to help many patients rapidly regain substantial amounts of lost vision,” said Hal Barron, M.D., chief medical officer and head, Global Product Development. “We developed Lucentis to treat diseases of the eye and are pleased to have received this third U.S. indication to help a new population of people whose eyesight may be affected by diabetes.”

“This approval is an important advancement in the fight against blindness for people with diabetes,” said David M. Brown M.D., Retinal Specialist at The Methodist Hospital, Houston Texas, and clinical trial investigator. “Now that it will be available, Lucentis therapy can begin to make a difference in the lives of our patients with DME.”

Lucentis 0.5 mg once monthly was first approved by the FDA for treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 2006 and for macular edema following retinal vein occlusion (RVO) in 2010. Lucentis 0.3 mg once monthly was approved for DME, and physicians can order immediately with shipments expected to begin August 15.

Lucentis Efficacy in DME
The approval of Lucentis in DME was based on Genentech¿s Phase III trials, RIDE and RISE, two identically-designed, parallel, double-masked, three-year clinical trials, which were sham-treatment controlled for 24 months. A total of 759 patients were randomized into three groups to receive monthly treatment with 0.3 mg Lucentis (n=250), 0.5 mg Lucentis (n=252) or sham injection (control group, n=257). Primary outcomes were evaluated at 24 months and have been published in Ophthalmology.4

In the studies, treatment with Lucentis demonstrated improved clinical outcomes including substantial visual gain for many DME patients. Results showed patients who received 0.3 mg Lucentis experienced significant, early (Day 7) and sustained (24 months) improvements in vision:

  • More patients who received Lucentis were able to read at least three additional lines (15 letters) on the eye chart at 24 months: RIDE: 34 percent in the 0.3 mg group versus 12 percent in the control group; RISE: 45 percent, 0.3 mg versus 18 percent, control (primary endpoint)
  • Patients who received Lucentis had average vision gains exceeding two lines (10 letters) on the eye chart at 24 months: RIDE: 10.9 letters, 0.3 mg versus 2.3 letters, control; RISE: 12.5 letters, 0.3 mg versus 2.6 letters, control
  • Significant gains in average vision were observed 7 days after the first treatment
  • Patients who received Lucentis were significantly more likely to maintain their vision (lose < 15 letters on the eye chart) at 24 months: RIDE: 98 percent, 0.3 mg versus 92 percent, control; RISE: 98 percent, 0.3 mg versus 90 percent, control

For all time points comparing 0.3 mg Lucentis to control through Month 24 p < 0.01.

Vision improvements observed in patients treated with Lucentis at 24 months were maintained with continued treatment through 36 months.

Lucentis Safety in DME
The benefit/risk profile of Lucentis was favorable in patients with DME through 36 months in the clinical trials. Pooled safety analysis of RIDE and RISE at 24 months showed:

  • The ocular safety of Lucentis in patients with DME was generally consistent with that established in patients with wet AMD and RVO (through 36 months).
  • The most common ocular events occurring at a higher rate in patients receiving 0.3 mg Lucentis compared to the control groups included conjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding under the lining of the eye): 47 percent, 0.3 mg versus 32 percent, control; eye pain: 17 percent, 0.3 mg versus 13 percent, control; foreign body sensation in eyes: 10 percent, 0.3 mg versus 5 percent, control; vitreous floaters: 10 percent, 0.3 mg versus 4 percent, control; and increased eye pressure: 18 percent, 0.3 mg versus 7 percent, control.

Although uncommon, trends toward increased rates of arteriothromboembolic events (ATEs) such as vascular death, deaths of unknown cause, nonfatal heart attacks and nonfatal strokes, have been observed in prior studies of Lucentis in other diseases.

  • Rates of these events were similar among DME patients receiving 0.3 mg Lucentis and the control groups at 24 months at 5.6 percent, 0.3 mg versus 5.2 percent, control. The rate of ATE events at 36 months was 10.8 percent for patients in the 0.3 mg treatment group (control period ended at 24 months).
  • The rate of stroke in DME patients at 24 months was 1.2 percent, 0.3 mg versus 1.6 percent, control. The rate of stroke at 36 months was 2.0 percent for patients in the 0.3 mg treatment group.

Pooled analyses also showed the rate of fatal events (death from any cause) in patients treated in the DME trials was low, and many causes of death were not unusual for patients with advanced diabetes complications. However, a potential relationship between the events and intravitreal use of VEGF inhibitors cannot be excluded. The rate of fatalities at 24 months was 2.8 percent, 0.3 mg versus 1.2 percent, control. The rate of fatalities at 36 months was 4.4 percent for patients in the 0.3 mg treatment group.

Source: Genentech.

1[CDC] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Sham and Prevention [resource on the internet; updated 2011; cited 2012 May 25]. Available at:
2Bressler NM, Varma R, Doan Q, et al. Prevalence of Visual Impairment from Diabetic Macular Edema and Relationship to Eye Care from the 2005−2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) [abstract]. The Retina Society 45th Annual Scientific Meetings, Washington, DC; October 4−7, 2012 (accepted for presentation). NHANES database search by Genentech, data on file.
3Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) Research Group. Photocoagulation for diabetic macular edema: Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study report number 1. Arch Ophthalmol 1985;103:1796-806.
4Nguyen QD, Shah SM, Khwaja AA, et al. Two-year outcomes of the Ranibizumab for Edema of the Macula in Diabetes (READ-2) Study. Ophthalmology 2010; 117: 2146¿51.

1 Comment

  1. You have a family history of Macular Degeneration. Your grandfather had it. Your father had it. Chances are that you have the makings of Macular Degeneration. In fact your optometrist has said that he has noticed some drusen. Drusen is aging spots.


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