AMD supplements “low priority” for NHS funding

Primary care practitioners could be advised against prescribing lutein and antioxidants to new patients


Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) could be advised to dissuade practitioners from prescribing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) supplements to new patients under a NHS consultation.

The NHS has concluded a consultation on 18 medicines, including lutein and antioxidants, that are considered a “low priority” for funding.

The consultation document recommends that CCGs advise primary care prescribers not to give lutein and antioxidants to new patients and to support practitioners in de-prescribing the supplements.

At present, the NHS spends £1.5m on the supplements each year.

The consultation document refers to two systematic reviews of the effectiveness of AMD supplements in making the decision.

One review concluded: “There is accumulating evidence that taking vitamin E or beta-carotene supplements will not prevent or delay the onset of AMD. There is no evidence with respect to other antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin, or any of the commonly marketed multivitamin combinations.”

The other review found that people may experience a delay in the onset of AMD with antioxidant vitamin supplementation, but stated that the outcomes related to a relatively well-nourished US population.

“The generisability of these findings to other populations is not known,” the authors added.

The consultation on items that should not be routinely prescribed in primary care covers a range of medications that cost the NHS £141 million each year.

Other low priority medicines include herbal medicines, homeopathy items and some travel vaccinations.