NICE makes a U-turn on anti-VEGF decision

September 7, 2007

The National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in England is to delay issuing guidance on Lucentis and Macugen after an unprecedented patient outcry over its decision to block access to them.

The National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in England is to delay issuing guidance on Lucentis and Macugen after an unprecedented patient outcry over its decision to block access to them.

NICE originally recommended Lucentis (ranibizumab; Novartis) for use in just 20% of patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but not until both eyes were affected and, even then, only in the healthier eye. Macugen (pegaptanib; Pfizer) was blocked altogether. Both drugs are members of the anti-VEGF class of agents.

Campaigners from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Macular Disease Society claim that if the original NICE recommendations had been followed it would condemn more than 20,000 people a year to blindness.

NICE will now carry out further economic modelling for its appraisal and is expected to make new recommendations early next year.