A new drug for vision loss should become available to thousands of people NHS one week after approval by the drug regulator.
Faricimab (Vabysmo) is an eye injection made Roche which works to improve vision – or reduce vision loss – in people with wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) or diabetic macular edema (DMO).
Experts say that injections may be given to some patients less frequently than other available medications.
Data suggests that some people can now wait up to 16 weeks between doses, compared to eight weeks for one current treatment, aflibercept.
Following approval by the Medicines and Medical Devices Regulatory Agency (MHRA), farisimab received the green light from the National Institutes of Health and Medical Care (Nice) for use in the NHS.
Nice said up to 300,000 people in England with AMD may be eligible to participate, along with 28,000 people with DMO.
Helen Knight, interim director of drug evaluation in Nice, said: “We are determined to put such innovations in the hands of doctors to help patients as soon as possible.
“We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in other healthcare organizations to ensure that we offer progressive treatments that balance the best care and value for money, providing both individuals and society as a whole.”
Katie Elf, executive director of the Macular Vision Loss Charity, said:Sick with wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema face the burden of regular hospital visits to receive the vital treatment needed to preserve vision.
“However, we know that these trips can be difficult and often rely on the support of friends and family, sometimes as often as every four weeks.
“We are pleased that a new treatment option that can maintain vision and help minimize hospital visits will be available to patients in England.
“It will really change the lives of many people living with this devastating condition.”
Roche offered the NHS a discount on the drug after talks with the NHS of England.
Tom Renwick, head of ophthalmology at Roche, said he was “delighted with the decision” to recommend “this new and effective treatment”.
He added: “Faricimab is the first and only bispecific antibody licensed in the UK to treat the most common retinal diseases that threaten vision.”