Novartis said Wednesday its Lucentis eye treatment has been recommended by Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as a cost-effective therapy to stave off blindness. The Swiss pharmaceutical giant said in a statement that NICE had recommended Lucentis as "a cost-effective therapy for all eligible patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD)," an eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness in people aged over 50.
NICE determines access to medicines for National Health Service (NHS) patients in England and Wales on the basis of cost-effectiveness.
In its guidance, NICE proposed that the first 14 injections of Lucentis in each affected eye will be funded by the NHS -- Britain's 60-year-old public-funded health service -- while the drug costs for any subsequent injections will be reimbursed by Novartis.
"When fully implemented, the NICE decision will ensure that patients have access to Lucentis for as long as they need to preserve or improve their vision," said Winifred Amoaku, vice-president of Britain's Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
Novartis also announced on Wednesday that its Glivec cancer treatment has been granted "priority review status" by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for post-surgery use to treat stomach tumours.
Priority review status accelerates the review timing from 10 to six months.