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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Vegan Diet Cures Everything, or so they say...

Well, yes this has just got to be the latest re-run of the vegan magic bullet theory.
It's not that I am against veganism, or vegetarianism for that matter; it's just that I am for health.
So if I am for health then I bet you are asking why I am not for veganism or vegetarianism.
Well I am and I am not.
And there is the theory behind my thinking, and hopefully what will your effort to think this through.
The regular Western diet is a fraud and generally damaging to health. The same can be said for the plethora of 'diets to cure disease', such as the Hallalujah Acres Diet, PRISM Diet, VEGAN or VEGETARIAN Diets and others.
The truth is that there is no perfect diet for everyone, and the old and new food pyramid scams of the USDA are also included in food fraud, along with the dangerous artificial sweeteners, artificial flavorings, food additives and preservatives, ad infinitum. Or maybe I should say 'ad nauseum'!
I was a good vegetarian for many years until I learned that it had compromised my health to some extent, even with all the supplements I took over the years.
I do not wear glasses in my sixth decade while others in my family do. I still have low blood pressure and pass for a lot younger than I really am.
Be that as it is, I do know, since I have been around for a while, that the US Veteran's Administration proved that diabetes was reversible and preventable about 40 years ago with a high fiber and whole foods diets, with variety.
Part of the problem is that you can't get a lot of whole food these days and even the organic market is being slaughtered with allowable additives and canola oil. Most people never read food labels either, nor do they really understand the importance of sound nutrition.
For instance, did you know that there was very little arteriosclerosis back before they started to homogenize milk? Homogenization makes the fat so small that it passes the digestive phase, unlike real milk without homgenization.
Did you ever stop and think that all the low-fat and non-fat diet data since the 80s might have led us all to the rising problems of mood and behavioral problems.
Oh my goodness, fat in the diet.
Maybe fat might be good for the brain, cell wall membranes, making hormones and keeping nerve coatings in tact, or keeping your thinking active and your mood balanced.

Hm, might there be something to this thought?

For more reading, try these articles......

Vegan diet is good as a cleansing diet to help reduce some health risks. I do not think it is healthy in the long term, except in cultures where vegetarianism has been acculturated over centuries, such as with the Hindu people.
This is a good 2 part article.

See also hallelujah-diet-dangers

I think it is germaine to mention that thyroid difficulties are rampant in this country and it is from a myriad of variables, one being lack of healthy fat in the diet. There is a specific correlation between thyroid health and Diabetes.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Wasn't it said a long time ago that you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all people all of the time?
Some people like Dr. Samuel Epstein and others, as well as me, have for a very long time tried to warn women about Tamoxifen.
In my best recollection it is close to 10 years now, and in that time do we know how many women have been fooled into taking Tamoxifen under the guise of protecting them from breast cancer. Most, I am afraid. And how many health care providers failed to properly warn of the risks and other cancers that came from allegedly trying to protect health with this drug?
So how many needless other health problems and deaths?
No one who actually might know would dare say. And maybe no one really knows. Just another Tuskeegee Experiment but this one was used to pull the wool over women's eyes.
Oh yes, Race for the Cure. How much money was raised in that PR scheme to support Tamoxifen?
So today what do we read?
Breast cancer pill saves few lives, study finds
Mon Jul 24, 9:06 AM ET
Tamoxifen, the pill that prevents breast cancer in high-risk women, does not appear in the long run to save many lives, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

Women at the highest risk of breast cancer do appear to live longer if they take tamoxifen, the researchers report in the latest issue of the journal Cancer.

But for women at the low end of the high risk group, the sometimes serious side effects of tamoxifen outweigh the benefits, Dr. Joy Melnikow of the University of California, Davis, and colleagues reported.

Tamoxifen can cause blood clots and uterine cancer.

"We found that for women at the lower end of the high-risk range for developing breast cancer, there is a very small likelihood that taking tamoxifen will reduce mortality," Melnikow said in a statement.

Melnikow and her colleagues calculated that tamoxifen can extend life expectancy only when a woman's five-year risk of developing breast cancer is 3 percent or higher. This is especially true for women who have not had a hysterectomy, and thus risk endometrial cancer from taking tamoxifen.

Many women are in any case switching to a newer class of drugs known as aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer or to the osteoporosis drug raloxifene to prevent it.

Raloxifene, made by Eli Lilly and Co. under the name Evista, has been shown to prevent breast cancer as well as tamoxifen does, without causing as many blood clots, cataracts or as many cases of uterine cancer.

In June, researchers reported that women with breast cancer who switched to Pfizer Inc.'s drug Aromasin after taking tamoxifen were 17 percent less likely to die.

Tamoxifen blocks estrogen, which can help fuel the growth of tumors in some cases.

In women considered at high risk of breast cancer, usually meaning they have a close relative with breast cancer, have had several suspicious-looking lumps, or other conditions, tamoxifen reduced their risk of breast cancer by 49 percent.

Aromasin, known generically as exemestane, and similar drugs inhibit the enzyme aromatase, which is needed to produce estrogen. The aromatase inhibitors are now being used just after breast cancer surgery instead of tamoxifen in many women to keep the disease from returning.

They are not approved for prevention of breast cancer.

Tamoxifen was sold by AstraZeneca Plc under the name Nolvadex but is now marketed by several generic drug makers. It remains the only drug approved for use in preventing breast cancer in women who have not yet reached menopause.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women, after lung cancer. More than 200,000 people are diagnosed and another roughly 40,000 die from it each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Natural Treatments for Cancer

So who gets well with this one?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Is It Pharmaceutical or Is It Organic?

The USDA, in another government agency smokescreen feigning citizen safety, wants to play with your organic standards one more time. This time it is moving to allow eight toxic drugs in organic meat, and still allow organic claims.

Thanks to Dr. Patricia Doyle for enlightening us on this effort. Since it was published in a trade journal you might not have noticed it.

USDA Wants To Allow More Toxins In Organic Meat

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service is seeking comment on a proposed rule that would expand by eight the number of allowable substances used in treating livestock under the National Organic Program.

Among the additions:

* Atropine: Used as an antidote for organophosphate poisoning, usually the result of exposure to pesticides. Atropine is an extract from the plant atropa belladonna. The NOP consulted with both EPA and FDA about the appropriateness of use of atropine and received approval.

* Bismuth subsalicyate: Used as an absorbant, anti-diarrhea drug, as well as for relief from stomach ulcers. FDA advised NOP that bismuth is approved for use in humans and could be approved for use in livestock.

* Butorphanol: Used as painkiller prior to surgery. This is in a class called opiate agonists, and is similar to morphine or fentanyl. It is a significant aid in pain relief, but wears off quickly. The National Organic Standards Board recommended use in organic livestock production, but specified that the period between last use and either slaughter or sale of milk be twice as long as recommended by FDA. USDA does not believe that extension of the withdrawal period is necessary.

* Flunixin: Used in the treatment of inflammation or pyrexia. Flunixin is non-narcotic and non-steroidal. It is a synthetic drug which breaks down quickly and is removed from the body in urine. Again, NOSB recommended a withdrawal period twice the length required by FDA, and USDA disagreed.
Flunixin belongs to a general class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Other related drugs in this class include aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen. These drugs are capable of reducing pain fever, and inflammation.
# Flunixin’s chemical name is 2-(2-methyl-3-trifluoromethylanilino) nicotinic acid.
# NSAIDs, like flunixin, work by inhibiting formation of body chemicals called prostaglandins.
# In modulating the inflammatory response, flunixin reduces redness, swelling, heat, and pain associated with tissue damage. It also has antipyretic activity.
# Its clinical effect is apparent ~ 15 minutes after intravenous injection and 1-2 hours after intramuscular injection
# Flunixin is available over-the-counter but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.
Brand Names and Other Names
# This drug is registered for use in horses and cattle only.
# Human formulations: None
# Veterinary formulations: Banamine® [a.k.a. Finadyne®] (Schering-Plough), AmTech Flunixin Meglumine® (Phoenix Scientific), Equileve® (Vetus), FluMeglumine® (Phoenix Pharmaceuticals), Flunixamine® (Ft. Dodge), Flunixin Meglumine [generic] (Butler).

* Furosemide: Used for treatment of udder and pulmonary edema. It is a diuretic. Again, NOSB accepted the drug but requested an extended withdrawal period. USDA, again, disagreed on the necessity for such an extension.

* Magnesium hydroxide: For use as an antacid and laxative for use in treatment of upset stomach and constipation. This is a naturally occurring mineral.

* Peroxyacetic/paracetic acid: Used for facility and processing equipment sanitation and as a topical disinfectant on animals and meat and dairy products. Approved by FDA as an indirect food additive.

* Poloxalene: For treatment of bloat in cattle, it is a stool softener, and can be used in emergency situations or as a preventative as an addition to feed. It is synthetic. NOSB recommended that it be approved only for emergency treatments; USDA wants it to be used for preventative care as well.

Comments must be submitted by Sept. 15, 2006.

They may be mailed to Arthur Neal, Director of Program Administration
National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-TMP-NOP
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Room4008-So., Ag Stop 0268
Washington, DC 20250
Fax 202-205-7808

Originally posted: 7/21/06
Author: Pete Hisey


I am looking for some self-respecting human being subjected to prescription mania who now is ready to stand up for their rights. I believe you are really out there, and I hope there are more and more signing up for health rights as the days pass along.
You have to be out of your mind if you don't!
Well, today we learn that Gleevec causes heart failure.
Oh yes, it's that good one you know; the left ventricle acting out of character. So if your left ventricle acts out just how do you think that blood will get circulated around your body and get oxygen to the cells?
I don't think there is a day that passes that I don't see some news report on FDA corruption, FDA collusion with drug companies, or how the FDA is failing the citizens it is supposed to protect from the ravages of dangerous drugs.
Don't ask me what I think about these Medicare Senior Drug Plans. (just don't look at the profits rising at the drug companies and insurers on the financial pages or you might get some new disease so that they'll have to do some spin so you beleive what they say, whether or not it is based on fact; shame on AARP too!)
And please don't forget that nutritional supplements in the form of vitamins are so harmful.
Well, where's the harm? Might it just be that Big Pharma can't bear the thought that you might be able to think for yourself, take some good vitamins in high doses and actually get over what diagnosis you've been labeled with?
You know there are NO bodies from taking vitamins, or did your doctor forget to tell you that.
Millions dying from prescription errors. Now that's another topic in the headlines too.
They want to cure this with electronic prescriptions by 2010.
Maybe the way to cure this faux pas is to get doctors to actually learn about the drug on their own, especially the side effects, interactions, and side effects. Maybe we could throw in "informed consent" as well!
This goes for pharmacists and NPs too, as I see these health care professionals making grave mistakes with Rx drugs every week.
It frightens me, and I am an NP.
I surely hope it frightens you too.

Doctors' lack of drug training puts patients at risk Most doctors agree that their role has been reduced from healer to that of drug peddler - and it seems they aren't very good at that, either.
Doctors' lack of knowledge of drugs and their use is so bad that the lives of Patients is constantly put at risk, a group of leading pharmacologists has claimed.

Even the most conservative figures suggest that 1 in 16 hospital admissions is the result of an avoidable adverse reaction to a drug. Once there, up to 10 per cent of those will suffer another adverse drug reaction while in the care of a hospital doctor.

It's all the fault of the training hospitals, which are no longer teaching basic pharmacology and prescribing. "The competence of young doctors in prescribing is a very serious problem," says Prof Sir Michael Rawlins, chairman of the UK medical standards group, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Ultimately, the blame lies with the General Medical Council, he says, which has changed the emphasis of doctor training to 'problem solving' rather than learning the basics.

The GMC issued its new teaching edict around 16 years ago, around the time when drug companies were coming up with more complex medications. The problem has been exacerbated more recently by the UK government's obsession with performance targets.

As a result, many clinical pharmacology departments had closed down, and there are just 68 specialists who practise clinical pharmacology and therapeutics in Britain, a fall of 24 per cent over the last 10 years. Of those that are left, half will retire in the next 10 years, and are unlikely to be replaced.

Prof David Webb, chairman of the Scottish Medicines Consortium, said medical students were privately expressing concerns at their lack of knowledge about drugs. "Patients are becoming ill and some are dying as a result of poor prescribing. There is no doubt about that. A substantial proportion of that is undoubtedly avoidable," he said.

This all bodes well for the drugs industry. With the last keeper of the gate removed, they can foist any new drug on the public without sufficient regard as to its safety. And they do.

(Source: Daily Telegraph, July 19, 2006; BBC news broadcast).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Importance of August 5

Peace on many levels has a great deal to do with health and healing. Praying Peace is a daily event in my life as I hope it is in your life. In a world free of war we can take the wasted energy of those events, such as those so prominent today, and use it to create a world free from hunger, disease, and want.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


As I see it, it is about time these facts, known for decades, start being reported to the public. Of course it is likely that you won't read it in the US press or hear it on FOX News.

6 July 06. (shortened)

Major questions have been raised about the benefits of chemotherapy as a cancer treatment after a local support group cited research that claimed the treatment improved survival rates by just 2 per cent.

The Cancer Support Association said on 5 July that chemotherapy was far less effective than people had been led to believe. The association cited a study in 2005 by Sydney radiation oncologist Graeme Morgan which found it improved survival rates by 2%..

Association chief executive Peter Daale said he was concerned some
chemotherapy patients were putting themselves through unacceptable
side-effects for little gain.

"We don't think patients fully understand the implications of the treatment being offered and if it was an entirely harmless procedure I wouldn't bother (speaking out)" he said. "But most of these chemotherapy drugs are highly toxic and they have medium to long-term side-effects, particularly in terms of cardiac health, nerve damage and kidney and liver function."

Dr. Daale, who is not medically trained, said there was a place for chemotherapy but only in certain patients. He said most people were not getting enough information to make an informed decision.

Professor Morgan, from Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, yesterday stood by his claim the benefits of chemotherapy were exaggerated and minimal. The benefits are incredibly low, despite the fudge factor that medical oncologists use. When chemotherapy came in in the 1970s it was thought to be the panacea for cancer, but it's not, and there's been little improvement since then." he said. For major cancers such as lung, prostate and colon there's very little evidence that chemotherapy does anything."

Overall, chemotherapy was expensive and only increased the success rate of cancer treatments from 61 to 63%.

But Professor Michael Millward, Cancer Council professor of clinical cancer research and chair of the WA Clinical Oncology Group, said chemotherapy could help many patients. "Even if chemotherapy cannot cure a cancer by itself, it may improve a patient's condition and improve quality of life," he said.

Chemotherapy may have side-effects so it is important cancer patients discuss it carefully with a medical oncologist and are clear on what the aims of using it are and what are the likely side-effects.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Medicare Premiums Set to Increase - DRASTICALLY

Well who would be surprised when reading this news story today.
The elderly will face another double-digit rise in their Medicare premiums next year, resulting in monthly payments of nearly $100.

The monthly premiums for supplementary medical insurance will rise from $88.50 to at least $98.40, the Bush administration projected Tuesday. That's an 11.2 percent increase, and it's possible the amount will be slightly higher.

The projections assume that Congress will reduce Medicare payment rates for physicians by about 4.7 percent next year. Many analysts don't believe such a cut will occur, and that means the cost of the insurance would go higher than current projections.

Mark McClellan, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the higher premiums are being generated through an increase in the volume of care provided Medicare patients. Doctors make greater use of imaging, physical therapy, lab tests and physician-administered drugs.

Physicians say that the increased volume usually equates to better care and healthier patients, but a fact sheet released by CMS on Tuesday said "use of these services varies substantially across practices and geographic areas, with no clear impacts on health."

"We can't keep pumping more money into a payment system that is not sustainable," McClellan said.

The premiums that beneficiaries pay help fund physician services and outpatient care, also known as Medicare Part B. Taxpayers also fund the program.

About 7 million of the poorest beneficiaries get their premiums paid for through government programs, and some retirees get help from their former employer as well. But the large majority of the nation's 43 million beneficiaries will have to pay the increase, McClellan noted.

Kirsten Sloan of the AARP said that one way to slow costs for seniors is to slow costs throughout the health care system through greater use of technology. She said legislation designed to take the paper work out of medical care could save money and reduce medical errors.

"We're going on several years of repeated double-digit increases, and it's also roughly three times the rate of the
Social Security (cost-of-living) increase," said Sloan, the AARP's national coordinator for health issues. "It puts a real squeeze, particularly on moderate-income seniors."

While McClellan said the Part B increases were going up faster than recent projections, he also noted that premiums for the new drug benefit have been lower than projected. The average premium was projected a year ago to be about $37 a month, but that average dropped to $24 a month as seniors and the disabled flocked to plans offering lower monthly premiums.

And of course Congress wants to limit your access to health promoting supplements, even though there are numerous physicians who care more for their patient's health safely with supplements than current insurance and pharmaceutical contolled mainstream medicine wants to allow.

Health is a commodity that it becoming more and more precious. Its greatest value is in becoming independently healthy with knowledge.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Natural Substances and Health Benefits

About a month ago I wrote about the failure of medicine today to think with an open mind.

I suppose I could address any topic in health care and see the same behavior. I hear stories every day from people about the difficulties they face in the health care system, and their hopelessness. Your health is a very precious commodity, and your health care provider needs to give it their full attention.

As a follow-up note to something I mentioned in "One More Time, with feeling" I am most pleased to report that a little girl's health status became free of parasites because of natural therapy with nutritional support, internal baths, herbs and essential oils.

If you want to insure that your right of access to natural therapies remains in tact, please visit this site.

Ever Think That Your LOW-FAT or NON-FAT Diet Craze Might Lead to Poor Health?

Review finds current vitamin D recommendations insufficient to achieve healthy blood levels

A review published in the July, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which sought to determine the optimal serum levels of the major circulating form of vitamin D [25(OH)D] for several health outcomes concluded that it would be necessary to consume at least 1000 international units of vitamin D per day to elevate blood serum levels in half the adult population to 75 nanomoles per liter, the minimum level that the researchers found to be advantageous for helping to preserve normal bone mineral density and lower extremity function, and aiding in the prevention of periodontal disease, falls, fractures, and colorectal cancer. Although there is evidence for vitamin D in preventing other diseases such as multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, insulin resistance, osteoarthritis, hypertension, and cancers other than colorectal cancer, the authors did not include these diseases in the current review.

H. A. Bischoff-Ferrari of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland, along with colleagues at Harvard and Tufts University evaluated clinical trials and meta-analyses involving vitamin D and each of the selected health outcomes. They concluded that the most desirable serum levels of vitamin D began at 75 nanomoles per liter (30 nanograms per milliliter), and optimal levels are between 90 and 100 nanomoles per liter. These levels cannot be reached by most individuals with the current recommended intakes of 200 international units per day for younger adults and 600 international units per day for older adults. To bring vitamin D concentrations in at least 50 percent of the population up to optimal levels, the authors recommend at least 1000 IU vitamin D per day, and they remark that 2000 IU per day may be a safe recommended daily allowance.

“On the basis of this review, we suggest that, for bone health in younger adults and all outcomes in older adults, including antifracture efficacy, lower-extremity strength, dental health, and colorectal cancer prevention, an increase in the current recommended intake of vitamin D may be warranted,” the authors conclude. “Given the low cost, the safety, and the demonstrated benefit of higher 25(OH)D concentrations, vitamin D supplementation should become a public health priority to combat these common and costly chronic diseases.”

The fat soluable viatmins are A,D,E and K. Basically this means that you MUST have healthy fat in your diet to absorb and utilize these important substances. And, yes, the mineral 'calcium' is fat dependent too.

Some minerals, including calcium are fat soluable also. The integrity of the cell wall membrane depends on fat, as does a large part of the brain and nervous system.

Hormones are produced and work well because of fat in your diet.

Of course you want healthy fat and you want moderate amounts of it. Yes, fat for the health of it!

In case you aren't a health and nutrition nut like I am here is a little primer on those four vitamins I listed above:
Vitamin A
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin K

Make these vitamins your friends. We have a great Food Plan for Biochemical Rebalancing we can send you with your donation.

And if you'd like to help us continue our work here, on our web site and in our newsletter, feel free to visit us, and consider purchasing your high quality vitamins and supplements from us too.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Drugs: The Generator

About a year ago a very dear and long ago friend from the 60s decided to leave this plane. I have been thinking of him a lot lately. This morning I decided to play the CDs I have of his wonderful music. This also makes me think about how he had so much trouble with his health, knowing part of his decision included these worries.
It doesn't surprise me in the least because I know so many people, especially as they are aging, fear for loss of health.
I am not outside that group, so I try to do things to help maintain my health and prevent any untoward events as much as they remain in my control. This has a lot to do with taking responsibility for my health. I hope that others will do this too, because they can, and should.
This article about vision and drugs takes me back a decade or more when so many research articles were in the media about vitamin C being the best protective treatment to prevent and perhaps reverse macular degeneration.
Vitamin C you say. Yes, you know that dangerous supplement that all humans need, at least about 3000 mg. daily, since we don't make any of our own. That supplement they want to limit your purchase to about 60 mg. daily, only because that amount prevents scurvy, but any more can be dangerous. (Hear my laughter here please!)
Now comes Lucentis at $1950 bucks a pop. And you might have to get it twice a month. This is an alternative to Avastin, a $17 a dose cancer drug used off-label for the same treatment. You know those off-label uses not FDA approved (if that means anything these days) that could very well bring about terryifying long-range problems.
If you read this BLOG, subscribe to herbalYODA Says! or visit the CHI website you probably know that we support natural healing, so we support high dose natural vitamin C. Maybe it might cost up to $30 a month for high quality vitamin C. And of course you get added benefits of health promotion for other concerns like heart health, et al. Then you can consider IV vitamin C too ( which works for many things including HepC, cancer, etc).
So maybe nostaligia wins today. Or maybe the fact that I am in my 60s and the only one in my family that does not wear corrective lenses and I don't have kidney stones from all that vitamin C I've been taking for decades.
Another effective treatment is the use of the Palma Christi. This is an Edgar Cayce remedy that many elderly clients of CHI have used. You could also try the natural eye wash protocol, as it has been around for at least 100 years now, and shows no untoward side effects. We haven't ever found any bodies either.
Now for more music from the heart of "Jon the Generator", please go here.

Drug approved to combat elderly blindness
By ANDREW BRIDGES, Associated Press Writer Fri Jun 30, 8:44 PM ET

The first drug shown to significantly improve the vision of patients threatened by a major cause of blindness in the elderly won federal approval Friday.

The drug, called Lucentis, treats the wet form of age-related macular degeneration, a disorder where blood vessels behind the retina leak blood and fluid, worsening vision and often causing blindness. An estimated 90 percent of the 1.4 million Americans who have lost their eyesight due to the disorder have the wet form.

Lucentis, made by Genentech, Inc., a South San Francisco, Calif., biotechnology company, inhibits the growth of blood vessels when injected into the eye. Other Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments can arrest progression of the disease, which can lead to blindness in just weeks or months, but none has been shown to significantly reverse deteriorating vision.

Genentech may find Lucentis competing against another of its drugs, the cancer treatment Avastin. Avastin is increasingly used to treat macular degeneration for as little as $17 a dose. Lucentis will cost $1,950 per injection, or more than 100 times as much. Each drug is typically injected monthly or bimonthly.

Lucentis and Avastin both block the same protein believed responsible for the blood vessel growth. Early results from Lucentis trials led doctors more than two years ago to begin experimenting with Avastin to treat age-related macular degeneration, commonly called AMD.

"It gave physicians and patients great hope we are going to be able to improve vision in our patients rather than just slow down the loss of vision," Dr. George Williams, an American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesman, said of the early results.

Since then, at least 10,000 macular degeneration patients have received Avastin injections, a so-called "off-label" use of the drug.

"It's become a worldwide phenomenon," said Dr. Philip Rosenfeld, a professor of ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, who pioneered its use for AMD.

The FDA does not sanction using Avastin to treat macular degeneration. Genentech stresses that it has not studied the safety or effectiveness of Avastin in treating the disease, nor does it plan to do so.

"We believe Lucentis is a much better choice," said Dr. Hal Barron, Genentech's chief medical officer. "I really believe when treating patients, you have to look at the wealth of data supporting its use and the quality of that data."

The National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, has received an outside proposal to conduct a study comparing Avastin and Lucentis in treating AMD, said the government institute's Dr. Maryann Redford.

Genentech engineered Lucentis to better penetrate the retina while reducing inflammation, Barron said. Lucentis also clears the body faster than Avastin, and better targets the protein important to vessel formation, he added.

Still, the anticipated cost of Lucentis may constrain its use, since Avastin is far cheaper when vials of the cancer drug are divvied up and used to treat macular degeneration.

"The bottom line is, wherever price does matter, Avastin will probably be used as first-line therapy. But wherever price is not an issue, like in Medicare patients and Medicaid patients, Lucentis will be used," Rosenfeld said.

Neither drug is a cure for age-related macular degeneration. Lucentis is most effective when injected monthly, said Dr. Wiley Chambers, deputy director of the FDA's Division of Anti-infective and Opthalmologic Products. The disease is named for the macula, the central portion of the retina responsible for detailed central vision.

The two other FDA-approved therapies to treat macular degeneration are Novartis AG/QLT Inc.'s Visudyne, which combines a light-sensitive drug and laser therapy to seal leaking blood vessels, and OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc./Pfizer Inc.'s Macugen, which is injected into the eye. Both slow the progression of the disorder but typically reverse its effects in only 5 percent to 10 percent of patients, Chambers said.

Lucentis' most commonly reported side effects include conjunctival hemorrhage, eye pain, floaters, increased eye pressure and inflammation.

In clinical trials, nearly 95 percent of participants given monthly injections maintained their vision at one year, compared with the approximately 60 percent who did after receiving another treatment, the FDA said. Approximately one-third of the Lucentis patients also reported improved vision after a year.

Genentech said it would start shipping Lucentis on Friday.