You may have recently read the BBC’s article on the drug Avastin (21 September 2018), which has the potential to save the NHS millions if used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The article investigates the decade long battle to get the drug licensed for eye conditions which has resulted in a landmark ruling, allowing the NHS to be able to prescribe Avastin for wet AMD patients in the UK.
At the moment, there are two officially licensed treatments for wet AMD in the UK; Lucentis and Eylea. Avastin is a drug licensed for cancer treatment and used for AMD treatment. The drug is a cheaper alternative, but is not currently licensed for treating AMD in the UK.
The use of Avastin has long been advocated by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, with evidence suggesting the drug to be as safe and effective as some of the more expensive alternatives. As more than 40,000 cases of wet AMD are diagnosed annually in the UK, this would save the NHS an estimated £500m annually.
Jo Mullin, Director of Policy and Strategy, at the College of Optometrists says, “We welcome the fact that the availability of an effective and cheaper drug will give those caring for patients with AMD a choice of treatments.”