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Sight-saving drugs rethink

9th August 2007

NICE is to rethink guidance relating to the use of drugs for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD).

Eye2

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) had issued draft guidance relating to the treatment of wet AMD. The guidance garnered a record-breaking number of complaints - over 13,000.

Wet AMD affects around 250,000 people in the UK and is the number one cause of sight loss.

NICE's recommendations included a complete stop of the use of the drug Macugen and restriction of another, Lucentis.

The draft guidance said that Lucentis should only be given to a small proportion of patients - around 20% - with a certain type of wet AMD. It also stated the drug should only receive NHS funding if both a patient's eyes were affected.

Both the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists gave their support to the use of the drugs.

NICE has now said that it will perform further "economic modelling" in relation to the two drugs and will issue final guidance in 2008.

The RNIB said NICE showed "massive incompetence" in putting back their decision and 10,000 people might go blind "unnecessarily" over the next six months.

Head of campaigns Steve Winyard said: "This overwhelming surge of public opinion could simply not be ignored - and it's a great victory for the British public."

"But given the wealth of evidence that NICE received at the start of this process, how could they have got their initial guidance so wrong?"




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