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Mechanism of Action
VISUDYNE (verteporfin for injection) therapy is a two-stage process requiring administration of both verteporfin for injection and nonthermal red light.
Verteporfin is transported in the plasma primarily by lipoproteins. Once verteporfin is activated by light in the presence of oxygen, highly reactive, short-lived singlet oxygen and reactive oxygen radicals are generated. Light activation of verteporfin results in local damage to neovascular endothelium, resulting in vessel occlusion. Damaged endothelium is known to release procoagulant and vasoactive factors through the lipo-oxygenase (leukotriene) and cyclo-oxygenase (eicosanoids such as thromboxane) pathways, resulting in platelet aggregation, fibrin clot formation and vasoconstriction. Verteporfin appears to somewhat preferentially accumulate in neovasculature, including choroidal neovasculature. However, animal models indicate that the drug is also present in the retina. Therefore, there may be collateral damage to retinal structures following photoactivation including the retinal pigmented epithelium and outer nuclear layer of the retina. The temporary occlusion of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) following Visudyne therapy has been confirmed in humans by fluorescein angiography.
Following intravenous infusion, verteporfin exhibits a bi-exponential elimination with a terminal elimination half-life of approximately 5-6 hours. The extent of exposure and the maximal plasma concentration are proportional to the dose between 6 and 20 mg/m2. At the intended dose, pharmacokinetic parameters are not significantly affected by gender.
Verteporfin is metabolized to a small extent to its diacid metabolite by liver and plasma esterases. NADPH-dependent liver enzyme systems (including the cytochrome P450 isozymes) do not appear to play a role in the metabolism of verteporfin. Elimination is by the fecal route, with less than 0.01% of the dose recovered in urine.
In a study of patients with mild hepatic insufficiency (defined as having two abnormal hepatic function tests at enrollment), AUC and Cmax were not significantly different from the control group, half-life however was significantly increased by approximately 20%.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Two adequate and well-controlled, double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized studies were conducted in patients with classic-containing subfoveal CNV secondary to age-related macular degeneration. A total of 609 patients (VISUDYNE 402, placebo 207) were enrolled in these two studies. During these studies, retreatment was allowed every 3 months if fluorescein angiograms showed any recurrence or persistence of leakage. The placebo control (sham treatment) consisted of intravenous administration of Dextrose 5% in Water, followed by light application identical to that used for Visudyne therapy.
The difference between treatment groups statistically favored VISUDYNE at the 1-year and 2-year analyses for visual acuity endpoints.
The subgroup of patients with predominantly classic CNV lesions was more likely to exhibit a treatment benefit (N=242; VISUDYNE 159, placebo 83). Predominantly classic CNV lesions were defined as those in which the classic component comprised 50% or more of the area of the entire lesion. For the primary efficacy endpoint (percentage of patients who lost less than 3 lines of visual acuity), these patients showed a difference of approximately 28% between treatment groups at both Months 12 and 24 (67% for VISUDYNE patients compared to 40% for placebo patients, at Month 12; and 59% for VISUDYNE patients compared to 31% for placebo patients, at Month 24). Severe vision loss ( ≥ 6 lines of visual acuity from baseline) was experienced by 12% of VISUDYNE-treated patients compared to 34% of placebo-treated patients at Month 12, and by 15% of VISUDYNE-treated patients compared to 36% of placebo-treated patients at Month 24.
Patients with predominantly classic CNV lesions that did not contain occult CNV exhibited the greatest benefit (N=134; VISUDYNE 90, placebo 44). At 1 year, these patients demonstrated a 49% difference between treatment groups when assessed by the < 3 lines-lost definition (77% vs. 27%).
Older patients ( ≥ 75 years), patients with dark irides, patients with occult lesions or patients with less than 50% classic CNV were less likely to benefit from Visudyne therapy.
The safety and efficacy of VISUDYNE beyond 2 years have not been demonstrated.
Based on the TAP extension study, the average number of treatments per year were 3.5 in the first year after diagnosis, 2.4 in the second, 1.3 in the third, 0.4 in the fourth and 0.1 in the fifth year.
One adequate and well-controlled, double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized study was conducted in patients with subfoveal CNV secondary to pathologic myopia. A total of 120 patients (VISUDYNE 81, placebo 39) were enrolled in the study. The treatment dosing and retreatments were the same as in the AMD studies. The difference between treatment groups statistically favored VISUDYNE at the 1-year analysis but not at the 2-year analysis for visual acuity endpoints. For the primary efficacy endpoint (percentage of patients who lost less than 3 lines of visual acuity), patients at the 1-year time point showed a difference of approximately 19% between treatment groups (86% for VISUDYNE patients compared to 67% for placebo patients). However, by the 2-year timepoint, the effect was no longer statistically significant (79% for VISUDYNE patients compared to 72% for placebo patients).
Based on the VIP-PM extension study in pathologic myopia, the average number of treatments per year were 3.5 in the first year after diagnosis, 1.8 in the second, 0.4 in the third, 0.2 in the fourth and 0.1 in the fifth.
Presumed Ocular Histoplasmosis
One open-label study was conducted in patients with subfoveal CNV secondary to presumed ocular histoplasmosis. A total of 26 patients were treated with VISUDYNE in the study. The treatment dosing and retreatments for VISUDYNE were the same as in the AMD studies. Visudyne-treated patients compare favorably with historical control data demonstrating a reduction in the number of episodes of severe visual acuity loss ( > 6 lines of loss).
Based on the VOH extension study in presumed ocular histoplasmosis, the average number of treatments per year was 2.9 in the first year after diagnosis, 1.2 in the second, 0.2 in the third and 0.1 in the fourth.
Last reviewed on RxList: 7/9/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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