Pharmaceutical company Bayer’s drug Eylea will be offered as a starting point for patients with certain forms of macular oedema.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released a draft recommendation of the anti-VEGF drug, for patients with macular oedema secondary to branch vein occlusion.
The drug will need to be sold at a discounted price to meet NICE criteria.
This was a turnaround for NICE, after it recommended aflibercept as a secondary treatment to the often-painful laser treatments in provisional guidance documents in June.
The move will allow 15,000 patients across England and Wales access to the drug from October. In its final appraisal determination document, NICE concluded that Eylea is more clinically effective than laser photocoagulation.
Anti-VEGF drug Lucentis (ranibizumab) was approved by the organisation in 2013 for the condition, if laser treatments have failed or are not an option for patients.
Macular Society chief executive, Cathy Yelf, said: “It is great news that patients will have access to an anti-VEGF treatment at the start of the treatment journey, as it will mean that they will not have to go through the pain and discomfort that can often be associated with laser treatment and will have the opportunity to preserve their eye sight as much as possible so they are able maintain their independance and the quality of life.”
Moorfields Eye Hospital consultant ophthalmologist, Professor Sobha Sivaprasad, welcomed the decision.
She said: "First-line access to an anti-VEGF injection will allow us to promptly offer patients effective treatment. This recommendation will also mean that treatment decisions could be simplified, with fewer interventions and NHS resources required to ensure patients are achieving the best possible visual outcomes.”