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NICE recommendation expands patient eligibility for AbbVie’s Ozurdex

Treatment becomes an option for treating visual impairment caused by diabetic macular oedema, regardless of lens status.

AbbVie has announced that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a final appraisal document recommending the dexamethasone intravitreal implant – also known as Ozurdex – as a treatment option within the NHS, for adults with visual impairment caused by diabetic macular oedema (DMO).

It is specifically aimed at individuals whose condition has not responded well enough to non-corticosteroid therapy. Until now, the use of Ozurdex within the NHS has only been available to these patients if they had an artificial lens. The recommendation from NICE, however, extends the use of the implant to include those with a natural lens and means that suitable patients will now have access to an additional treatment beyond non-corticosteroid therapy.

DMO is a complication of diabetes which affects approximately 7% of 3.5 million people with the condition in England. It is also one of the leading causes of preventable sight loss in the UK. Current non-corticosteroid therapies for DMO include laser therapy and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections.

For patients with a natural lens – whose DMO responds insufficiently to these treatments – there have been few options other than to continue to receive frequent injections in the hope of maintaining vision.

“The availability of an additional treatment which can help patients with diabetic macular oedema retain vision is very welcome news,” said Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society. “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 anxiety and the frequent hospital visits can be a burden, especially when these patients are also managing their diabetes care,” she added.

Belinda Byrne, medical director at AbbVie, added: “We are pleased that NICE has recognised the value that dexamethasone intravitreal implant can bring to these patients and that those facing the prospect of sight loss, now have the option of another treatment in the pathway.”