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NICE Agrees to Appeal Hearing on Lucentis

From Optician (UK) (August 19, 2011)

Patients with diabetic macular oedema (DMO) may yet gain access to the Lucentis (ranibizumab) treatment within the NHS after the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) agreed to review an appeal.

Manufacturer Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK welcomed the review after it appealed against last month's decision by NICE that ranibizumab was not a cost-effective alternative to laser in treating vision impairment related to DMO.

There was considerable opposition in the aftermath to NICE's decision, with a host of charities and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists also urging a rethink.

Each now have the opportunity to voice their concerns at an appeal hearing to be held on October 4 this year in Manchester. The appeal panel will send its decision to NICE within 15 working days.

Novartis argued that individuals with visual impairment due to DMO could greatly benefit from ranibizumab. It said treatment could potentially restore vision within a week of receiving the first dose, prevent vision loss and sustain visual improvement.

"In clinical trials ranibizumab has been shown to double the likelihood of gaining vision and reduce the chance of losing vision by up to three-fold compared to laser," it said.

In submitting its initial decision (News 12.08.11), NICE recognised the successful trials, and vowed patients already receiving ranibizumab would have the option to continue treatment with the NHS. But its appraisal committee said at the time that analyses by manufacturer Novartis were based on "implausible assumptions."

Novartis has submitted a patient access scheme to NICE and the Department of Health (DoH) for ranibizumab.

Ranibizumab treats DMO by preventing the build-up of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the retina. It costs £742.17 per monthly eye injection and has already been approved by NICE for wet age-related macular degeneration.


Posted: August 2011