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3 Jun 2013 - Macular Society: Charity welcomes new sight saving drug

The Macular Society has welcomed the news that a new drug is to be made available for patients with a common cause of sight loss.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved the use of Eylea to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD).

Eylea works in a similar way to the existing drug Lucentis and is injected in to the eye. However, its effects may last longer, meaning patients need fewer injections.

AMD is the biggest cause of sight loss in the developed world and around 40,000 new cases of the wet form are diagnosed each year in the UK.

Patients with AMD cannot read, drive or recognise faces. The dry form is untreatable. Patients with wet AMD need very regular hospital appointments for monitoring and treatment of their condition.

Lucentis has transformed the lives of many thousands of patients but the burden for both patients and the NHS has been significant. Eye clinics are struggling to cope with the number of patients needing treatment and many fail to maintain the recommended treatment schedule for Lucentis.

Helen Jackman, the Chief Executive of the Macular Society said: “We are very pleased NICE has approved Eylea so quickly. It may help to relieve the pressure in eye clinics and ensure patients get the best care. Macular disease is a devastating condition for many people and getting treatment at the right time is vital. Delays lead to sight loss.”

If there is no appeal against the recommendation NICE will issue final guidance within a few weeks and NHS bodies in England and Wales will then have three months in which to make Eylea available. Eylea is already approved for use in Scotland.

Not all patients will receive Eylea immediately. Those already being treated with Lucentis may remain on that drug.

For information, advice or support concerning macular degeneration, contact the Macular Society’s helpline on 0300 3030 111 or email help@macularsociety.org

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