The anti-VEGF drug Lucentis (ranibizumab), used for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), has dramatically improved the outcomes for so many people.
The registration of Lucentis by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in 2007 and subsequent listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) changed the landscape of this disease. Lucentis continues to be used across this country to save the sight of so many people.
In April this year, another treatment called Eylea (aflibercept) was registered in Australia by the TGA and subsequently on the Pharmaceutical benefits Scheme (PBS). Eylea, which is also given as an injection into the eye, is not yet available in Australia but it is planned to be available for use by ophthalmologists late 2012.
Clinical trial data indicate that Lucentis and Eylea produce very similar results, however the dosing regimen for Eylea is different. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) that advises the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has determined that switching will not be allowed between either drugs. Once you have started on one treatment, you will have to stay on that treatment.
The Foundation's position is that "switching" should be allowed between both anti-VEGF drugs Lucentis and Eylea (once available) and that ultimately, the decision about which drug is most appropriate and potentially beneficial to the patient should be made on the recommendation of the eye specialist in consultation with the patient.
The MD Foundation has made representations to the Chair of the relevant authority (PBAC) in regards to the issue of switching.
Read more about treatments for macular degeneration here.
15 June 2012