How a cancer drug has saved people from going blind
TEN years may not seem like a long time, but in my field, ophthalmol ogy, it has made the difference between going blind and still being able to drive. Ten years ago, if you developed wet age-related macular degeneration, a disease that wreaks havoc on central vision and limits the ability to read, recognize faces and generally see up close, there wasn’t much we could do. If you were lucky and had a specific form of the disease, the best we had to offer was a laser treatment called photodynamic therapy, or PDT. Sadly, it didn’t really do enough to help save vision; most people’s sight still worsened.
Then some brilliant minds applied principles of cancer therapy to come up with a treatment that could actually improve vision in people with wet AMD. They realized that the two diseases had an important trait in common — they both involved the growth of new blood vessels, whether in tumor cells or in the retina. They used a colon cancer drug that attacks these new blood vessels in tumors to target the similar vessels in wet AMD. I feel lucky to be practicing today and to be able to offer my patients such a game-changing treatment.
Still, it’s not without difficulty. The treatment involves injections of medicine into the eye, sometimes on a monthly basis. Lest you run screaming from your computer or smartphone at the mention of eye injections, it sounds quite a bit scarier than it actually is. Of course that’s easy for me to say, but when the alternative is going blind, it changes your perspective.
Nonetheless, these injections are a huge burden on patients and their families. Family members often have to take time off work to drive their loved ones to their frequent appointments, or patients may still be working themselves and have to leave work. Then there’s the cost issue. Avastin, the colon cancer drug, costs about $50 per dose when used “off label” in the eye. The other two medications, Lucentis and Eylea, which were developed specifically for use in the eye, cost around $2,000 and $1,800, per dose, respectively.
Most ophthalmologists start with Avastin. If they need to switch medications, even if patients have Medicare there can be significant costs to the patients themselves. I have had patients who couldn’t afford the switch when they needed it. Even the lower-cost Avastin adds up, especially for those on a fixed retirement income. And some patients can’t even afford the less expensive medication when it needs to be repeated every month. mentalists, civil society, nature lovers and people from different walks of life were also ISLAMABAD—Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani has urged Commonwealth nations to make collective efforts for overcoming the challenges of poverty, illiteracy and terrorism by boosting mutual cooperation and learning from one another experiences. Chairman Senate expressed these views at reception organized in honor of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and participants of the three-day Parliamentary staff development workshop for Asia and South East Asia.
Raza Rabbani emphasized that nations belonging to Asia need to look inward, build on the Asian dream to put Asia back on the map of the history and give Asia its rightful place, said a news release issued here on Saturday. He further said “the region is passing through a great deal of trouble and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) provides us an opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences and exchange of ideas.”
“CPA is an essential requirement in present day polity where we share common values, our principled positions and have a common heritage” , he added. He said CPA can be a very effective forum to be able to take those goals forward as the nationa share commonality of views.
He expressed the confidence under the dynamic leadership of Akbar Khan the new Secretary General, CPA would be playing a more active role in putting parliaments together and making collective endeavors for overcoming common challenges. Raza Rabbani expressed his gratitude to the CPA for co-hosting an international workshop in collaboration with the Senate of Pakistan and said that such interactions are necessary for exchange of views, sharing of experiences and learning internationally recognized best practices for efficient service delivery and improving quality of work.
He appreciated the excellent arrangements made for workshops and expressed the hope that such fruitful interactions would continue in future as well. Later, the newly elected Secretary General of the CPA Akbar Khan also addressed the participants. “I believe that commonwealth nations have a wealth of expertise and a wealth of wisdom”, CPA Secretary General said.
He also underscored the need for boosting further boosting cooperation and exploring new avenues to learn and share experiences. Akbar Khan said that committee systems of the National Assembly and Senate very vibrant and active which shows that Parliament is playing an active role. He also highlighted the significance of the trained and well qualified Parliamentary staff essential for providing expertise to members of parliament.
He termed his visit a pleasant one and expressed his sincere appreciations for the excellent arrangements. He lauded the dedication of the participants and resource persons. The Parliamentary Staff Development workshop concluded in Islamabad which touched upon different crucial area necessary for parliamentary support. Participants of the course and resource persons expressed satisfaction over the contents and other learning opportunities provided during this three day workshop.