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CCG plan to offer treatment choice to eye patients angers pharma companies

How would CCGs’ policy on wet age-related macular degeneration policy work?

Pharmaceutical manufacturers have threatened to take 12 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to court to force them to offer patients a choice of treatments for an eye condition.

Roche and Bayer told the North East England and North Cumbria CCG forum they will seek a judicial review after the CCGs proposed a policy of offering a choice of drug treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration, the British Medical Journal has reported.

The choice is to be between the non-licensed treatment bevacizumab (Avastin, Roche), and two treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), ranibizumab (Novartis, Lucentis) and aflibercept (Eylea, Bayer).

If trusts agree, patients with a new diagnosis of wet AMD will be told bevacizumab is preferred because it is as clinically effective as ranibizumab and aflibercept and far cheaper, but that they are still free to have one of the NICE-recommended treatments if they wish.

The CCGs estimate the policy could save £13.5m over five years, but Roche and Bayer have argued that offering a choice on this basis breaches the patient’s right to the NICE-approved drugs.

North East England and North Cumbria CCG forum lead David Hambleton said his organisation is confident its plan is lawful.

Further information

BMJ: CCGs face legal threat for offering off-label drug for wet AMD

BMJ: Commentary: NHS patients should have a choice of drug for wet age-related macular degeneration, despite pressure from pharma

NHS England: Cumbria and Northeast

Website: North Cumbria CCG