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NICE backs drug for diabetic macular oedema

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The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended ranibizumab (Lucentis) for treating visual impairment caused by diabetic macular oedema, after its manufacturer Novartis agreed to provide it at a discounted rate.

Following a review of its guidance from 2011, NICE said ranibizumab should be an option for treating visual impairment due to diabetic macular oedema if the eye has a central retinal thickness of 400 micrometres or more at the start of treatment.

Professor Carole Longson, director of NICE’s health technology evaluation centre, said: “NICE is pleased to recommend ranibizumab as a treatment option for some people with visual impairment caused by diabetic macular oedema.

“In November 2011, NICE published guidance which did not recommend the drug as an effective use of NHS resources. However, following the submission of a revised patient access scheme, we have conducted a rapid review of the original guidance.

“The manufacturer also included updated analyses showing that ranibizumab could be expected to have a superior relative effect among people with central retinal thickness greater than 400 micrometres,” she said.

Ranibizumab, which is given by injection into the eye, works by preventing the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). By inhibiting VEGF, ranibizumab can decrease the oedema and limit visual loss or improve vision.

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