The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Roche's injectable eye drug Lucentis for a new use in treating a diabetes-related condition that can cause blindness.
The agency cleared the drug for diabetic macular edema, a condition that causes swelling and blurred vision in patients with diabetes. In 2010, 3.9 million adults with diabetes reported vision problems, according to the FDA.
Lucentis is currently marketed for wet, age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among the elderly. The drug has been facing new competition in that market from Regeneron Pharmaceutical's Eylea, which is cheaper and can be administered with fewer injections.
Side effects with Lucentis include bleeding around the tissue that lines the eyelids and increased pressure on the eyes.
Lucentis is manufactured by Roche's Genentech unit.