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Health chiefs facing legal fight over cheaper eye drug

From BBC - October 31, 2017

Health chiefs face a legal fight over plans to give a cheap drug to patients with a debilitating eye condition.

Twelve clinical commissioning groups (CCG) in the north of England want to offer Avastin to people with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

It has been licensed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) but not specifically to treat AMD.

Pharmaceutical firms Bayer and Novartis are threatening legal action, claiming prescribing it "undermines" guidelines.

Bayer produces Eylea and Novartis produces Lucentis, which are both licensed to treat AMD.

Bayer said it had to "act to challenge the decision taken by these CCGs" and was "currently considering its position including the possibility of legal proceedings".

Roche, which holds the rights to Avastin, said licensing takes time and money better spent on the research and development of future treatments.

The 12 CCGs said clinical trials showed Avastin was suitable and could save them up to 13.5m a year within five years.

South Tyneside CCG chief officer Dr David Hambleton said this could "pay for an extra 270 nurses or 266 heart transplants".

Some estimates suggest a national switch to Avastin could save the NHS around 500m per year, the BMJ reports.

AMD

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