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NICE blocks blindness drug use

14th June 2007

Campaigners have warned that a draft decision not to make drugs for a condition that causes blindness widely available on the NHS will cost many people their sight.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) assessed treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and issued a preliminary ruling that puts a block on the use of one drug, Macugen and tight restrictions on a second, Lucentis, which will be given for a specific type of the wet form of AMD and even then only for patients with the condition in both eyes.

Macugen and Lucentis, which are delivered by injection, cost £10,000 and £12,000 a year respectively per patient.

The decision affects England and Wales as the drugs are already widely available in Scotland on the NHS for AMD, a condition which affects the central part of the retina at the back of the eye responsible for the vision necessary for everyday activities.

NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said: “When treatments are very expensive, we have to use them where they give most benefit to patients.?

But Steve Winyard of the Royal National Institute of Blind People said he was “outraged? by the guidance and added: “It ignores the overwhelming body of evidence that these new treatments are cost-effective and have the potential to halve the number of people going blind each year.?

Mr Winfried Amoaku, of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said it was wrong to limit treatment to people with a particular type of wet AMD when many others also faced blindness.


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Article Information

Title: NICE blocks blindness drug use
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 3137
Date Added: 14th Jun 2007


BBC News

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