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Sight warning over drug rejection

More people will needlessly lose their sight after a new treatment for diabetics was rejected for NHS funding, a health charity has warned.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has refused to make Lucentis available on the NHS for the treatment of diabetic macular oedema (DMO) - an eye condition affecting around 50,000 people with diabetes in the UK.

Diabetes UK said Lucentis is the first licensed treatment to improve vision and vision-related quality of life in people with sight loss due to DMO.

A spokesman said: "We are very concerned local health services will use this decision as an excuse to stop treatment."

In final draft guidance, NICE said it had not recommended ranibizumab (Lucentis, Novartis) for the treatment of DMO.

Commenting on the draft recommendations, NICE Chief Executive, Sir Andrew Dillon, said: "NICE already recommends ranibizumab for wet age-related macular degeneration and although it has been shown in clinical trials to be an effective treatment for DMO, the appraisal committee was unable to recommend the drug as a cost-effective use of NHS resources compared to laser photocoagulation for this condition."

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