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Drug approved by SMC for sight problems linked to diabetes

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The Scottish Medicines Consortium has approved a new treatment option for visual impairment in patients with diabetic macular oedema.

Dexamethasone 0.7mg intravitreal implant and its applicator (Ozurdex) has been backed by the SMC for use by NHS Scotland.

The product is a biodegradable intravitreal implant that releases dexamethasone over an extended period of time to suppress inflammation.

The SMC recommendation applies to patients with oedema who are pseudophakic – have artificial lens implants due to cataract surgery – or who are considered insufficiently responsive to, or unsuitable for non-corticosteroid therapy.

Diabetic macular oedema affects approximately 7% of people with diabetes.

The product’s manufacturer, Actavis, cited evidence that 50% of people with diabetic macular oedema do not respond to non-corticosteroid therapy, notably anti-VEGFs or laser.

It suggested that its treatment may also help “alleviate the burden” of oedema on patients, with fewer injections than existing options. Treatment with Ozurdex lasts at around five months on average, compared to anti-VEGF therapies that may require monthly injections.

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