New treatment approved for wet AMD and diabetic macular oedema

Posted: Tuesday 24 May 2022
Eye drops being instilled into patient by professional with blue gloves.

A new treatment for two types of macular disease has been approved for use on the NHS in England and Wales. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published draft guidelines for the NHS recommending Roche's drug Faricimab as a treatment for both wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO).

The longer-lasting drug, which will be marketed as Vabysmo, is effective in improving vision or reducing vision loss. It is the first dual action drug and tackles two pathways involved in blood vessel growth, VEFG and Ang-2.

Earlier this year Roche published phase III data showing the majority of patients on clinical trials were able to go 12 or 16 weeks between injections. 

NICE's draft guidance has been published just a week after Faricimab was announced as the first treatment to be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency through its participation in the Access Consortium

The consortium is made up of regulatory authorities including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and Switzerland, which aims to give people faster access to treatments.

Helen Knight, interim director for medicines evaluation at NICE, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to recommend this treatment to help tackle two leading causes of vision loss so close to its licence just last week.

“We are determined to drive innovations like these into the hands of clinicians to help patients as soon possible. We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in other healthcare organisations to ensure we deliver progressive treatments which balance the best care with value for money, delivering both for individuals and society as a whole." 

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, added: “Patients with wet AMD and DMO face the burden of regular hospital visits to receive the vital treatment they need to save their sight. However, we know these trips can be arduous and often rely on the support of friends and family, sometimes as often as every four weeks.

“We are delighted that a new treatment option, which has the potential to maintain vision and help minimise the number of hospital visits, will be made available to patients in England. This will make a real difference to the lives of many people living with this devastating condition.”

The Scottish Medicines Consortium is currently considering the approval of Faricimab on the NHS in Scotland and a decision in Northern Ireland is expected to follow in the coming months.  

NICE's final guidance is due to be published on June 29.