NHS chiefs to examine using anti-cancer drug to treat eye complaint

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nhs bosses in the region yesterday agreed to examine using an unlicensed drug to treat a common eye condition which is the leading cause of blindness.

The Yorkshire Post revealed on Saturday how officials at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) were set to explore using anti-cancer drug Avastin to treat age-related macular degeneration rather than the more expensive drug Lucentis.

Evidence shows both drugs are equally safe and effective.

The condition causes a gradual loss of central vision which is needed for detailed work and activities including reading and driving. Until recently no treatment was effective for the illness.

GP Andrew Phillips, who is deputy chief clinical officer at the CCG, said a business case would be drawn up to use the drug it was estimated could save it £4 million a year although several regulatory hurdles remained.

“This is the equivalent of either the running of a full A&E department for six months, 5,000 cataract operations or an eight bed neo-natal intensive care unit for one year,” he said.

Officials yesterday also agreed to provide IVF treatment for couples in the area with immediate effect.

It had been the only area in England to impose a blanket ban.