Thousands of patients with diabetes-related sight loss given access to new treatment

Posted: Thursday 11 August 2022
Drug Vial close up

Thousands of patients with diabetic macular oedema (DMO) could benefit from a steroid treatment, which has previously only been available to those who have received cataract surgery.

The dexamethasone intravitreal implant (also known as Ozurdex) was first recommended for people with DMO by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2015, as a second-line treatment for those who have not responded to, or could not receive, non-steroid therapies such as anti-VEGF injections. However, it was restricted to those who have had cataract surgery.

This week NICE has issued revised guidance recommending that AbbVie’s Ozurdex can be used to treat patients with DMO in this situation, irrespective of whether they have had cataract surgery.

Clinical trial evidence shows that dexamethasone is effective for DMO and reduces the number of times patients need to have treatment, which can have huge benefits to their quality of life. NICE estimates that overall, more than 25,000 people could potentially benefit from the treatment.

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said: “The availability of an additional treatment which can help patients with diabetic macular oedema retain vision is very welcome news.

“The potential it offers for fewer injections and hospital visits for those currently receiving but not responding to anti-VEGF injections, could also make a difference to the lives of those living with DMO, and their families.

“We know that these appointments can cause significant anxiety and the frequent hospital visits can be a huge burden, especially when these patients are also managing their diabetes care.”

Dexamethasone is given as an injection into the eye. Each implant slowly dissolves, releasing dexamethasone to the back of the eye, stopping inflammation, leakage from the retinal blood vessels and swelling.

The news follows further recommendations from NICE to approve the longer-lasting drug Beovu for treatment in patients with DMO – read more about this new treatment.