A nationwide, government-sponsored study finds that people with a common form of diabetic retinopathy can benefit from a medication first developed to combat another potentially blinding disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Treating diabetic macular edema (DME) with ranibizumab (Lucentis) eye injections, plus laser treatment if needed, appears to result in better vision than laser treatment alone, according to the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research (DRCR) Network study published today in Ophthalmology online, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy). DME is the main cause of vision loss in people with diabetes mellitus.
. Although ranibizumab is an FDA-approved drug for AMD, it is not yet specifically approved for use with DME. Not every insurance company covers its use for DME at this time, since the definitive DRCR Network study results have just been published, although some insurance companies currently do cover this use based on previous smaller studies with briefer follow-up. Also, the DRCR Network study did not evaluate a very similar drug, the far less expensive bevacizumab (Avastin), so definitive confirmation of its potential effectiveness in DME is not yet available.