Patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (Wet AMD) should be eligible for 14 lucentis (ranibizumab) injections per eye, says the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). This is a complete reversal on its previous recommendation. The new recommendation does not include eligibility for Macugen, another injection.

* Wet age-related macular degeneration is known as Wet ARMD, or Wet AMD

According to NICE, after further economic modeling of available treatments, it decided to modify its recommendation with regard to Lucentis injections.

Wet AMD is the main cause of blindness in the United Kingdom; there are approximately 26,000 new cases annually. Today about 250,000 people are effected with wet AMD in the UK.

In Scotland both Lucentis and Macugen have been widely available on the National Health Service (NHS). Both drugs are known as ant-VEGF drugs – they target a protein that stops damage to the retina.

Initially, NICE had recommended that about 20% of patients with wet AMD would be eligible to receive Lucentis injections on the NHS. This involved patients with a particular type of wet AMD who had both eyes affected – the Lucentis would only be used on the less badly affected eye.

The new recommendation includes patients who only have one eye affected, and not only patients with a particular type of wet AMD. However, treatment on the NHS will only be given to patients after a certain amount of deterioration has passed. If more than 14 injections are needed for a particular patient, the manufacturer of Lucentis will pay for the extra ones.

NICE informs that the final guidance will be published early next year.

Ophthalmologists welcome the news. However, they would like to see Macugen added as a treatment for those who have problems with Lucentis.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Written by – Christian Nordqvist