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Egypt has become the 31st country to approve aflibercept to treat diabetic retinopathy in patients with DME.
During a press conference led by retinal disease specialists and sponsored by Bayer Healthcare, experts announced the approval of the latest treatment for diabetic retinopathy in patients with diabetic macular edema (DME) in Egypt.
Dr Hany Hamza, Professor of Ophthalmology at Cairo University and Retinal Diseases Consultant said, “with nearly 21 million people worldwide suffering from DME, phase 3 of VIVID-DME and VISTA-DME clinical trials revealed that aflibercept offers diabetes patients suffering from impaired vision a new treatment option allowing them to proactively manage disease progression and achieve sustained improvement.”
Egypt now joins 30 other countries which have approved aflibercept which was authorized for DME treatment by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2014.
“Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is a common complication of diabetes, causing damage to the retina, which may lead to poor vision and vision loss,” said Dr Hamza. “Visual impairment resulting from DME affects nearly 3% of diabetes patients worldwide, making DME a leading cause of vision loss in working-age adults.”
“In Egypt DME is a serious challenge; it affects nearly 30% of a total of 7.5 million people living with diabetes in the country. DME occurs when blood vessels in the retina are damaged by chronic high blood sugar levels caused by diabetes. This in turn can cause severe vision loss or blindness,” added Dr Hamza.
Dr Magdy Moussa, Professor of Ophthalmology at Tanta University and Retinal Diseases Consultant shed light on the results of Phase 3 of VIVID-DME and VISTA-DME clinical trials, “after one year of regular therapy, patients treated with aflibercept showed significant improvements gaining, on average, the ability to read approximately two additional lines on an eye chart. Moreover, 33% of patients regained the ability to read three additional lines after only eight injections.”
Aflibercept which is injected into the eye once a month, for an initial five months, then once every two months, minimizes the development of abnormal retinal vessels, by blocking the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), one of the natural growth factors in the body which play a significant role in diabetic retinopathy incidence. By reducing the rate of development of new blood vessels, leakage is minimized or prevented.
“Aflibercept represents an effective and comprehensive treatment for DME; it is currently the only treatment option for diabetic retinopathy in patients with DME that is approved for bimonthly dosing after an initial monthly dosing period. Moreover, current treatments which block VEGF only inhibit the VEGF-A protein, whereas aflibercept inhibits all the different VEGF-A proteins, in addition to PlGF,” said De Moussa.
“People living with diabetes must closely monitor their blood sugar levels and go for eye checkups once every year,” said Dr Hamza. “Early detection achieves the best treatment outcomes – patients who discover the disease early are successful in controlling it and preventing loss of vision.”