<a href=Novartis” height=”225″ src=”https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/wp-content/uploads/static-progressive/Pharmaceutical%20companies/800px-Industria_Novartis.jpg” style=”padding: 10px” width=”300″ />

A UK health watchdog has recommended the use of Lucentis for the treatment of visual impairment caused by diabetic macular oedema (DMO) after manufacturer Novartis dropped the price of the drug.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) rejected Lucentis (ranibizumab) in November 2011 but has made a u-turn on its decision after the Swiss drugmaker offered it at a discount to the National Health Service.

Novartis has submitted a revised Patient Access Scheme, said NICE, together with updated analyses showing the drug’s relative effect among a sub-group of people with DMO.

Professor Carole Longson, Health Technology Evaluation Centre director at NICE said; "NICE is pleased to recommend ranibizumab as a treatment option for some people with visual impairment caused by diabetic macular oedema in new draft guidance."

Lucentis, which is given by injection into the eye, works by preventing the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein which – in high numbers – can cause increased permeability of the blood retinal barrier in people with diabetes.

This leads to leakage of plasma constituents in the surrounding retina, causing a build-up of excess fluid (oedema) that disrupts the fovea, the area responsible for sharp vision.

The British National Formulary states that the list price of Lucentis is £742.17 per vial excluding VAT. The discount applied to Lucentis under the patient access scheme has not been disclosed.

Image: Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. Photo: Courtesy of Andrew/Flickr.