Patients reassured after drug ruling

Patients in Norfolk suffering from a condition that could send them blind have been reassured they will still get treatment, despite an NHS drugs regulatory body saying some treatments should not be available on the NHS.

By Mark Nicholls

Patients in Norfolk suffering from a condition that could send them blind have been reassured they will still get treatment, despite an NHS drugs regulatory body saying some treatments should not be available on the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) yesterday recommended the drugs Macugen and Lucentis to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) should not be widely available on the NHS.

In its draft guidelines it said Macugen should not be used at all on the NHS and only recommends Lucentis for about one in five patients with wet AMD, who have a particular type called predominantly classic subfoveal choroidal neovascularisation (CNV).

But Norfol Primary Care Trust has confirmed it will press ahead with funding treatment for wet-AMD using the drug Avastin. While it is not licensed for such use, or been considered by Nice, it has been shown to be successful.

Dr John Battersby, Director of Public Health for Norfolk Primary Care Trust said: “Following the decision taken at the board meeting regarding the use of Avastin, the Primary Care Trust is now working to commission this service for patients to get it up and running quickly.”

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However, Dr Battersby did say the board will review its position when the official NICE guidance comes out in the autumn.

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