By Adrian Galbreth
The rejection of a treatment for diabetic macular oedema (DMO) by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has been criticised by a leading diabetes organisation.
Diabetes UK disagreed with Nice's opinion that Ranibizumab (Lucentis), which is currently licensed for the treatment of sight loss caused by DMO, would not be cost effective if placed on the NHS.
As Lucentis is the first licensed treatment to improve both vision and vision-related quality of life in patients, Diabetes UK said it had hoped that it would become available on the NHS, to provide hope to the 50,000 people with diabetes in the UK.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said the decision means more people will "needlessly" lose their sight.
"We pressed hard to make this treatment available on the NHS and we will campaign for Nice to reconsider its decision. The cost of looking after people with sight loss far outweighs the cost of Lucentis treatment, let alone the human cost," she added.
Ms Young also noted that the organisation is now concerned that local health services will use the decision as an excuse to stop treatment.
Meanwhile, Nikki Williamson, who has a severe form of type 1 diabetes – DMO and diabetic retinopathy – recently told Boots Web MD that the approval of the drug for NHS provision would give her back her life.
She argued that Nice is failing to take into account the long-term effects that approving the drug would have on people's lives, and how this is definitely worth the investment.
"If you can see what you are doing, you can support yourself. You can be a normal member of society and pay your own way," she explained.
Diabetes UK is now asking the public to support its campaign to persuade Nice to reconsider its decision by inviting them to 'like' or 'recommend' its Facebook page devoted to the cause.
by Emily Tait