NHS says it can save £5m with eye drug

ROW The drug, Lucentis
ROW The drug, Lucentis

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THE NHS could save millions of pounds by switching to a cheaper drug to treat an eye disease.

That is one of the reasons why a health trust covering the Portsmouth area decided to use another drug to help treat wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (wet AMD).

As previously reported, primary care trust cluster Ship commissioned the use of Avastin as it costs about £60 per injection.

This is despite another drug called Lucentis, which costs about £740 per injection, being recommended for use by the NHS drugs watchdog.

When it made the decision last September Ship said a potential saving of up to £5m could be made if Avastin was used.

Avastin and Lucentis are both being prescribed at the moment.

The trust said each year around 1,200 patients in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are treated for wet AMD with Lucentis, with around 1,000 injections.

Now Lucentis’ manufacturer Novartis has launched judicial review proceedings over the decision, saying it has concerns over patient safety.

The review could force Ship to change its policy.

The cheaper drug has a European licence, but is not officially approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to treat wet AMD.

The hearing will take place at the High Court, in London, but not until after October.