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Campaign sparks sight drugs rethink

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has helped win a rethink of NHS guidelines on drugs that can potentially help save people's sight.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has said it will hold further talks over medications to combat wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD).

The RCN and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists submitted reports in favour of the drugs Lucentis (ranibizumab) and Macugen (pegaptanib).

In total 13,000 responses were sent in to NICE during a consultation period after it published draft guidance saying Macugen should not be used on the NHS, and recommending Lucentis for only around one in five patients with wet AMD.

Wet AMD affects around 250,000 people in the UK, and there are 26,000 new cases each year.

The RNIB welcomed the public outcry over the original draft guidance, but expressed anger at the fact NICE is going back to the drawing board.

Steve Winyard, head of campaigns, said: "This overwhelming surge of public opinion could simply not be ignored - and it's a great victory for the British public.

"But given the wealth of evidence that NICE received at the start of this process, how could they have got their initial guidance so wrong?

"This must call into question NICE's ability to make a decision about who should and who should not keep their sight."


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"NICE should be allowed to also consider Avastin, a much cheaper drug which Lucentis is based on - with similar performance.  Avastin (a cancer drug) isn't licensed, but only because Genentech Inc make both drugs and haven't submitted Avastin for a license - they sell Lucentis at a much higher price. More people could be treated if the cheaper drug could be used.  The NHS is being manipulated so it can only consider the expensive drugs" - Peter Torkington, Hampshire