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Row over drug that could save £84m

An anti-blindness drug could save the NHS £84m a year, but a rival drugs manufacturer wants to prevent the health service from using the medicine, a report from The Independent says

Avastin is used in the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration – which is cited by health information services as the most common cause of vision loss in those aged over 50 – costs just £60 per injection.

Lucentis is the current official choice, even though each dose costs £700 and trials show it is no less effective than Avastin.

Avastin was developed for treating cancer, but National Institute for Health Research studies show it works just as effectively and safely as Lucentis in treating Wet AMD.

The study will no doubt further fan the flames of a dispute between the NHS and the maker of Lucentis, Novartis.
According to the report, some doctors have been prescribing Avastin for the condition tosave money, even though it has not licensed for this use.

That has led Novartis to sue four NHS trusts in a bid to stop their doctors from doing so, arguing that its unsanctioned use is a big risk to patient safety.