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Saturday 21st September 2019

NICE u-turn over blindness drug

12th December 2007

The NHS drug watchdog has reversed a decision to limit drugs for a major cause of blindness.


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) reconsidered its guidance on treatment for wet-AMD (Age-related macular degeneration) after it received 13,000 complaints over its initial draft guidance on the treatment.

The controversial guidance surrounded use of the anti-VEGF drugs Macugen and Lucentis, which work by targeting a protein that protects against damage to the retina.

In the initial recommendations NICE said that Lucentis (ranibizumab) should be made available only to patients in England and Wales with a particular type of wet AMD, which is responsible for about a fifth of all cases, and only when both eyes are affected.

It is now recommending that NHS patients with wet-AMD should be eligible for 14 injections of Lucentis per eye, even if only one eye is affected, with manufacturers paying for any additional doses if needed.

However, Macugen, is still not recommended for use on the NHS in England and Wales, though both drugs have already been made widely available in Scotland.

Winfried Amoaku, chairman of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ Scientific Committee, said he was relieved NICE had taken a fresh look at the recommendations but felt that Macugen should also be available when treatment with Lucentis is problematic.

RNIB’s head of campaigns Steve Winyard said they would like to see the eligibility threshold lowered but added: “NICE has given thousands of people the best Christmas present they could wish for - hope that their sight might be saved.?


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