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Diabetics denied drug

15th July 2011

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has ruled that an eye drug for diabetes patients was too expensive to be made available on the NHS.

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While it acknowledged that the drug Lucentis was effective in treating diabetic macular oedema (DMO), which affects 50,000 people in the UK, NICE has issued final draft guidance refusing to make it available on the NHS.

A one-year course of the drug costs almost £9,000 per eye.

A Diabetes UK spokesman said: “This decision means more people will needlessly lose their sight. We pressed hard to make this treatment available on the NHS and we will campaign for NICE to reconsider its decision.

“The cost of looking after people with sight loss far outweighs the cost of Lucentis treatment, let alone the human cost. We are very concerned local health services will use this decision as an excuse to stop treatment.”

While not available to treat DMO, Lucentis will be available for other eye conditions such as wet age-related macular degeneration.

NICE chief executive, Sir Andrew Dillon, said: “The independent appraisal committee was acutely aware that visual impairment can have a substantial negative impact on quality of life and activities of daily living in people with DMO, especially since it can affect people’s ability to manage their diabetes.”

But he added that although it has been shown in clinical trials to be an effective treatment for DMO, the appraisal committee was "unable to recommend the drug as a cost-effective use of NHS resources compared to laser photocoagulation for this condition".

 

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