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24 April 2012
Pharmaceutical company Novartis has permission for a judicial review to take place concerning the NHS use of Avastin to treat wet age-related macular degeneration.
The Macular Disease Society today called on the Government urgently to resolve the question of which drug should be used in treatment.
The patient charity says it “regrets” that a drug company is taking a cluster of PCTs to court over the use of Avastin and wants ministers to instruct NICE to hold an appraisal of unlicensed Avastin for use in a range of eye diseases.
NICE has already said it could do so provided it has the assistance of the safety regulator MHRA.
Chief Executive of the Macular Disease Society Helen Jackman said: “Many retinal specialists are satisfied that Avastin is as safe and effective as the approved drug Lucentis, others are not.
“NICE is the organisation best placed to resolve these issues, although we accept they cannot do so alone as there remit does not include safety and so they need the expertise of the MHRA as well.
“There needs to be a national solution to these uncertainties. If Avastin is not as safe as Lucentis no-one should be using is. If it is as good perhaps everyone should be using it. If doctors and other experts cannot agree on which drug to use it is not reasonable to expect a patient to decide and we have doubts patients would have the issues properly explained to them.
“A court would decide whether the PCTs' decision was correct from a legal or procedural point of view. Many of the issues of safety will remain unanswered and the uncertainty will go on.”