New option for macular odema patients

NICE recommends anti-VEGF drug Eylea alongside laser treatment as a first option in England and Wales

An image of the back of the eye

The fight for pharmaceutical company Bayer’s drug Eylea (aflibercept) to be offered as a starting point for patients, equal to laser photocoagulation, with certain forms of macular oedema has been won.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence last week (24 August) released a draft recommendation of the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medication, for patients with macular oedema secondary to branch vein occlusion.

The drug, which costs £816 per vial, will need to be sold at a discounted price to meet NICE criteria.

This was a turnaround for NICE, after it recommended aflibercept as a secondary treatment to the often-painful laser treatments in provisional guidance documents in June.

The move allows the 15,000 patients across England and Wales access to the drug from October. In its final appraisal determination document, NICE concluded that Eylea is more clinically effective than laser photocoagulation.

Anti-VEGF drug Lucentis (ranibizumab) was approved by the organisation in 2013 for the condition, if laser treatments have failed or are not an option for patients.

Moorfields Eye Hospital consultant ophthalmologist, Professor Sobha Sivaprasad, welcomed the decision and said that laser treatments do not always achieve the desired results.

“First-line access to an anti-VEGF injection will allow us to promptly offer patients effective treatment,” she emphasised.

Macular Society chief executive, Cathy Yelf, added: “It will mean that [patients] will not have to go through the pain and discomfort that can often be associated with laser treatment and will have the opportunity to preserve their eye sight as much as possible, so they are able to maintain their independence and quality of life.”

Image credit: Ku C Yong, Tan A Kah, Yeap T Ghee, Lim C Siang, Mae-Lynn C Bastion