AAO encourages CMS' coverage of intravitreal bevacizumab

May 1, 2006

In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) supportedreimbursement for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD)with intravitreal injections of bevacizumab (Avastin, Genentech) inpatients who have not responded to therapy with the two Food andDrug Administration-approved and CMS-covered drug therapies--ocularphotodynamic therapy with verteporfin (Visudyne, Novartis) orintravitreal pegatanib (Macugen, Eyetech, Pfizer).

In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) supported reimbursement for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with intravitreal injections of bevacizumab (Avastin, Genentech) in patients whose disease has not responded to therapy with the two FDA-approved and CMS-covered drug therapies-ocular photodynamic therapy with verteporfin (Visudyne, Novartis) or intravitreal pegaptanib (Macugen, OSI/Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, and Pfizer).

"This is not an endorsement of intravitreal Avastin," said H. Dunbar Hoskins, MD, AAO executive vice president. "It is a recommendation that those physicians who choose to use it should be reimbursed as they are with other off-label therapies."

Bevacizumab, a potent vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor, was initially developed for the treatment of colorectal cancer. According to the AAO, there is increasing clinical consensus that intravitreal bevacizumab is beneficial in select patients with AMD.

The AAO will continue to monitor new information regarding the safety and efficacy of these treatments and will release new position statements when appropriate.