Purpose: To provide broad clinical experience and to gather safety data on photodynamic therapy with verteporfin (Visudyne, Novartis AG, Basel, Switzerland), also termed verteporfin therapy, in patients with predominantly classic subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV) secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The Verteporfin in Age-related Macular Degeneration (VAM) Study was designed to provide expanded access to verteporfin therapy after beneficial results for these cases were reported but before regulatory approval in North America. Methods: This open-label multicenter study from September 1999 through June 2000 enrolled among 222 centers patients 50 years or older in the United States, or 40 years or older in Canada, with age-related macular degeneration and subfoveal CNV with a lesion composition that was predominantly classic CNV on fluorescein angiography. Corrected visual acuity with habitual eyewear in the office setting was 20/40 to 20/200, inclusive. All patients received verteporfin therapy and returned for follow-up every 3 months. At those follow-up examinations, additional courses of treatment were recommended if any fluorescein leakage from CNV was identified. Safety information was collected from patient self-reporting, questioning (in person and by telephone), and physician evaluation. Safety was assessed by evaluating the effect of treatment on corrected distance visual acuity and by evaluating adverse events. Results: A total of 4,435 patients were enrolled of whom 4,051 (91%) completed the study after receiving 6,701 treatments. Most patients received only one treatment in VAM before regulatory approval of verteporfin in the United States and Canada. Three hundred patients (6.8%) experienced an adverse event considered by the treating ophthalmologist to be associated with treatment, including 115 (2.6%) with abnormal or decreased vision, of whom 25 (0.6%) experienced acute severe visual acuity decrease, and 14 (0.3%) with transient infusion-related back pain. Patients were advised to avoid exposure to direct sunlight for 24 hours; however, after verteporfin administration only 2 (0.05%) reported a photosensitivity reaction. An additional course of verteporfin therapy was administered to 1,739 of 2,314 patients (75.2%) who had a month 3 examination that was not their close-out visit and 177 of 266 (66.5%) who had a month 6 examination that was not their close-out visit. Conclusions: Verteporfin therapy exhibited no additional or new safety concerns. The therapy associated with a low incidence of adverse events when expanded access was provided in a large, open-label, multicenter study, including a low incidence (0.05%) of reported photosensitivity reactions despite a short photosensitivity protection period (24 hours) following verteporfin administration.
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Choroidal neovascularization
- Photodynamic therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas