August 28, 2008

NICE Recommends Novartis’s Wet AMD Drug

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended Novartis's Lucentis as a cost-effective therapy for all eligible patients with wet age-related macular degeneration.

The announcement is said to be an important development for patients because the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) determines access to medicines in England and Wales based on agreed standards of cost-effectiveness. The final guidance comes at the end of a rigorous review which assessed the potential benefits of Lucentis for patients relative to the cost of the medicine.

The review evaluated all medications approved for treating wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in the UK, and heard evidence from health professionals, health economic experts and patient groups.

The NICE decision was based on data from clinical trials involving more than 7,000 patients, demonstrating that Lucentis enabled patients to read on average an additional four lines (21 letters) on an eye-chart compared to those receiving no treatment. This benefit was sustained for two years.

The final NICE guidance includes a reimbursement scheme under which the first 14 injections in each affected eye will be funded by the UK National Health Service, while the drug costs for any subsequent Lucentis injections will be reimbursed by Novartis.

Lucentis was developed specifically for use in the eye and is said to be the only approved therapy shown to improve vision and vision-related function in a vast majority of patients with wet AMD.