August 28, 2008
Relief at Sight Drug Decision
THOUSANDS of people all over the country will be able to receive sightsaving drugs thanks to a campaign spearheaded by three Warwickshire patients.
The drug Lucentis will now be available on the NHS to anyone with 'wet' macular degeneration - an eye disease which sends sufferers blind.The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) recommended doctors use the drug because it could cut the cost of treating a patient by more than pounds 8,000 over ten years.
Campaigners had already won a legal battle for the drug to be made freely available to patients in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Ray Liggins, aged 76, of Nuneaton, Jean Middleton, aged 78, of Kingsbury, and Patricia Meadows, aged 65, of Stratford, were told they could go blind within months if denied Lucentis.
They launched a High Court action against Warwickshire Primary Care Trust and an out-ofcourt settlement last month paved the way for the drug to be made routinely available to sufferers in the county.
Coventry Primary Care Trust agreed to follow suit and fund Lucentis for 'wet' macular degeneration sufferers the next day.
The Macular Disease Society (MDS) welcomed the news that Lucentis would be available to patients nationwide.
Charity chief executive Tom Bremridge said: "We are very pleased and relieved Nice has issued this long-awaited final guidance.
"Thousands of patients with the wet type of macular degeneration - who are at grave risk of losing their precious, remaining sight quite suddenly - have prayed for this day to arrive."
A two-year course of Lucentis - eight injections in the first year and six in the second - costs about pounds 10,700.
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