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NICE recommends use of Lucentis for NHS treatment of vision loss

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued new guidance recommending that a potentially sight-saving drug should be made available on the NHS to people with diabetic macular oedema (DMO).The draft guidance recommends Lucentis (Ranibizumab), Novartis is used as a treatment for the eye condition and if the final guidance - expected to be published next month - goes ahead, this treatment would become available on the NHS.

At least 50,000 people in the UK could be affected by DMO, a serious eye condition which can lead to sight loss as a result of fluid leaking from the small blood vessels in the eye.

Traditionally, laser treatment has been the standard treatment for DMO on the NHS, yet this only stops vision from deteriorating further. Lucentis, which is given in the form of an injection in the eye, is the first licensed treatment to improve vision in people with sight loss due to DMO.

In 2011, NICE announced its original decision not to recommend Lucentis as a treatment for people with DMO.

Diabetes UK, together with JDRF, the Macular Disease Society (MDS) and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) appealed this decision, arguing that NICE failed to act fairly as key patient organisations and clinicians were not given the opportunity to comment on significant new evidence submitted by the drug manufacturer Novartis, which may have led to incorrect conclusions being drawn in NICE’s final decision.

The decision from NICE comes after the drug’s manufacturer, Novartis, submitted a revised patient access scheme, together with analyses of updated effects of the drug for people with DMO.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, "We are delighted that NICE has reconsidered their previous decision, and that this draft guidance recommends that Lucentis is made available on the NHS. This would mean more people with diabetes would have a better opportunity to preserve and possibly improve their vision.

We have campaigned vigorously alongside the RNIB, JDRF and the Macular Society for this outcome for the past two years and so welcome this result, and hope this is reflected in the final guidance when it is issued next month.”

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