Vision experts have defended the decision by the NHS to prescribe people suffering from a common form of eye disease that causes blindness with a cheaper drug.
The NHS has allowed ophthalmologists to prescribe the drug Avastin to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness in the western world, rather than Lucentis, another effective treatment for the condition.
Although studies have indicated that injections of Lucentis could be more effective than Avastin, the decision was based on price, with Avastin costing £60 per injection compared with Lucentis' £740.
"We have taken legal advice and consider that the policy to allow clinicians the choice between Avastin and Lucentis for the NHS AMD patients is a lawful policy," the NHS stated.
The service added that, if clinicians decide to prescribe Avastin for wet AMD patients, the cost savings will result in the primary care trusts being able to fund other eye-related treatments for NHS patients.
by Martin Burns