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Aflibercept for Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Game-Changer or Quiet Addition?

      Purpose

      To describe the pharmacokinetics, preclinical studies, and clinical trials of the newly approved anti–vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drug aflibercept (Eylea (VEGF Trap-Eye); Regeneron; and Bayer).

      Design

      Review with editorial commentary.

      Methods

      A review of the medical literature and pertinent Internet postings combined with analysis of key studies with expert opinion regarding the use of aflibercept for the treatment of exudative age-related macular degeneration.

      Results

      Aflibercept, a fusion protein with binding domains from native VEGF receptors, binds VEGF-A, VEGF-B, and placental growth factors 1 and 2 with high affinity. Preclinical ophthalmologic studies demonstrated that aflibercept suppresses choroidal neovascularization in several animal models. The results of phase 1 and 2 trials showed excellent short-term suppression of choroidal neovascularization in patients with exudative age-related macular degeneration and suggested a longer durability of aflibercept compared with other anti-VEGF drugs. The pivotal phase 3 Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Trap-Eye: Investigation of Efficacy and Safety in Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration 1 and 2 trials showed that monthly and bimonthly aflibercept were noninferior to monthly ranibizumab at preventing vision loss (< 15-letter loss) with comparable vision gains and safety. Year 2 treatment involved monthly pro re nata injections with required injections every 3 months and maintained vision gains from the first year, with an average of 4.2 injections of aflibercept and 4.7 injections of ranibizumab.

      Conclusions

      Aflibercept promises to deliver excellent visual outcomes for exudative age-related macular degeneration patients while undergoing fewer injections compared with ranibizumab. With a wholesale cost of $1850 per dose, the cost per patient with aflibercept treatment promises to be lower than with ranibizumab.
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