2022 Q2 Rx Newsletter: Age-Related Macular Degeneration in America

July 26, 2022

According to the NIH, 2-3 million Americans are suffering from Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is “the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for Americans aged 65 years and older.”

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is an “eye disease that can blur your central vision. It happens when aging causes damage to the macula – the part of the eye that controls sharp, straight ahead vision.” AMD does not cause “complete blindness, but losing your central vision can make it harder to see faces, read, drive, or do close-up work like cooking or fixing things around the house.”

  • The number of people living with AMD is expected to surpass 5.4 million by 2050, according to the NIH.

The need for a part-time or full-time caregiver may become apparent as the disease’s symptoms start to notably impact the afflicted person’s daily life.

  • In 2018, 1 in 5 adults were reported as being caregivers in a non-career capacity.

Treatments, Cures, and Costs

As of 2017, the global costs of treating AMD is estimated to exceed $6.1 billion. While the age of the afflicted is predominantly 65 years or older, the costs of treatment are not isolated to Medicare and Medicaid alone. As older Americans remain in the workforce, the necessary treatment and their costs become more of a focus for employers.

  • While there are various drugs to treat the symptoms of AMD, the primary drug prescribed to treat AMD is Lucentis.
  • Lucentis, which received approval from the FDA in 2006, is reported to cost approximately $2k per dose.
    • A variety of new drugs are in the pipeline and expected to enter the market ranging from generics, alternative brands, and biosimilars. However price projections are unavailable.

As the U.S. population continues to age and live longer than prior generations, the amount of people living with AMD will continue to rise dramatically. AMD will continue to draw attention from pharmaceutical giants looking to expand their drug portfolio. However, this unfortunately entails the risk of an exceptionally expensive gene therapy or orphan drug to enter the market.


Sources: Center for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health
  1. “Learn About Age-Related Macular Degeneration” Center for Disease Control, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/resources/features/macular-degeneration.html
  2. “Age-Related Macular Degeneration” National Eye Institutes, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/age-related-macular-degeneration
  3. “Macular Degeneration Treatment Market: Technical Advancements and Promising Pipeline Products Assure Improved Growth” MedGadget, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.medgadget.com/2021/08/macular-degeneration-treatment-market-technical-advancements-and-promising-pipeline-products-assure-improved-growth.html

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