Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Avastin/Lucentis Update 44: United Kingdom Closer to Allowing Avastin for AMD

While the U.S. comes closer to showing the equivalency of Avastin to Lucentis for treating the wet form of age-related macular degeneration, when the CATT Study (Comparisons of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatments Trials) results become public, hopefully, some time this Spring, the UK’s health services are still fighting over whether or not they should study the two drugs to determine if Avastin would be appropriate for the Brits to use in their National Health Service.

NICE holds out hope for NHS use of Roche's Avastin for eye conditions

By Nick Hudson, APM Health Europe

LONDON, Dec 8 (APM) - The UK's NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) has suggested there is widespread backing for National Health Service use of Roche's Avastin for eye conditions and is now waiting to hear whether the Department of Health will refer the drug to the cost-effectiveness body for appraisal.

NICE said in a statement it has explored the feasibility of advising the NHS on the clinical and cost effectiveness of Avastin (bevacizumab) to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the UK and other conditions affecting the eye. It was asked to carry out this work by the Department of Health, which also asked the NHS Health Technology Assessment programme to commission work to identify the existing and expected evidence on the use of Avastin in the eye.

The so-called 'pre-scoping briefing report' took into account comments received from invited stakeholders, most of whom also attended a pre-scoping workshop at NICE in July.

"The main conclusion of the report is that there is support for an appraisal of intravitreal bevacizumab for eye conditions," NICE said on Monday. It added: "Stakeholders agreed that an appraisal would need to be conditional on, or incorporate the assessment of, the safety and quality of intravitreal bevacizumab by a regulatory body or through the involvement of regulatory expertise." In addition, arrangements for safety monitoring/pharmacovigilance will need to be explored. "The next step is for the Department of Health to decide whether or not to refer bevacizumab to NICE for consideration as part of its technology appraisal programme," NICE added.

NICE said Avastin is currently being used as a treatment for eye conditions by some NHS trusts as an alternative to Novartis' Lucentis (ranibizumab), which is licensed for AMD and which NICE recommended for use in August 2008.

While it pointed to optimism that Avastin could be used on the NHS for AMD, NICE on Wednesday maintained its view that the NHS should not pay for the drug for metastatic breast cancer (APMHE 21376). Roche told APM yesterday that it is considering appealing the decision.


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