The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence in the UK has recommended Bayer‘s wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) drug Eylea in its final draft guidance published today.

Eylea (aflibercept) is now recommended as an option for treating AMD, the most common cause of vision loss in the western world, on the condition that it is used in the same manner as rival drug Lucentis (ranibizumab) and Bayer cuts the cost of the drug under the Department of Health’s patient access scheme.

Lucentis, developed by Novartis, became the standard-of-care for AMD since it was recommended by NICE in 2008.

Two clinical trials have shown Eylea, the first new medicine in ophthalmology to be fast-tracked to draft Final Appraisal Determination, works as well as Lucentis, but requires fewer hospital visits, reducing the burden for patients and the NHS.

Commenting on the recommendation, NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said; "Wet AMD can have a significant effect on day-to-day life for people with the disease, so NICE is pleased to recommend aflibercept solution as a treatment option in final draft guidance.

"The independent Committee concluded that the recommendations can go straight to a final draft, without the need for public consultation, which will help speed up access to this treatment."

Like other AMD treatments, Eylea is given as an injection into the eye once a month for the first three months, followed by one injection every two months.

Image: AMD is the most common cause of blindness in the western world. Photo: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.