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Legal wrangle over cheaper treatment for Macular Degeneration

Legal wrangle over cheaper treatment for Macular Degeneration

Monday 11 December 2017

A dozen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are poised to lock horns with leading pharmaceutical companies over the right to offer a less expensive drug for the treatment of Macular Degeneration. The bone of contention is the whether Avastin – a drug licensed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) but not specifically to treat AMD – should be offered to patients as an alternative to Lucentis and Eylea.

The cost implications are enormous: Avastin costs £70 per injection, but Lucentis is over £700. Pharmaceutical firms Bayer (Eylea) and Novartis (Lucentis) are threatening legal action if the CCGs offer Avastin. claiming that prescribing it “undermines guidelines” set out by the General Medical Council and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

The 12 CCGs claim that clinical trials have shown Avastin to be suitable, and that offering it could save them up to £13.5m a year within five years. It has been estimated that the NHS as a whole could save £500m a year. In a time of necessary cost cutting, the outcome of this dispute could herald a landmark shift in the relationship between CCGs, the GMC and pharmaceutical companies.

Sources:

  1. BBC News:
    Health chiefs facing legal fight over cheaper eye drug .

  2. BMJ:
    Are the odds shifting against pharma in the fight for cheaper treatment for macular degeneration?.

Label:

AMD

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Comments

  • Thilo Kork
    22 Dec 2017

    Wholeheartedly supporting this drive for acceptable alternative. In particular as I lost sight on my left eye which was removed completely at age 9 and therefore have to rely on my good right eye alone.

    Serious Readers reply:

    Dear Thilo, many thanks for taking the time to send your feedback. The doctors involved say that clinicians and patients rather than drug companies should be able to make the choice between clinically effective drugs and those deemed safe. Hopefully the outcome of this stand-off will clarify who has ownership of these decisions. We just hope common sense will prevail.

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