NICE approves sight-saving drug
A new drug that will help sufferers of blocked blood vessels in the eyes has been welcomed by a leading charity.
The drug, Lucentis, has been approved to treat central retinal vein occlusion (RVO) or branch retinal vein occlusion.
RVO can be caused by a blood clot, external compression or disease of the vein’s wall.
Macular Societyhas welcomed the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) decision.
However, the charity has said the Department of Health and the new NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups need to commit the necessary resources to Lucentis treatment.
Macular Society Chief Executive Helen Jackman said:
"We are delighted that NICE has approved Lucentis for these patients who, until now, have had to experience the devastating loss of their central vision.
“We are also very pleased that Novartis has reduced the price of Lucentis making the drug more cost effective.
“We know that eye clinics are already struggling to cope with demand from patients with macular degeneration and diabetic macular oedema.
“Doctors report that some patients are not receiving optimal care now. Without more resources there is a danger that patients will not get the right level of care even though there is a good treatment available."
Macular disease causes a loss of central vision. The macula is the central and most sensitive part of the retina.
Previously laser treatment was the only option for patients affected by RVO. However, when the bleed is close to the macula this action caused some loss of central vision.
People with advanced macular disease cannot read, drive or recognise faces, Half of all people in the UK registered as sight impaired or severely sight impaired have macular disease.