A new injectable eye medicine has been recommended as a treatment option by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for two forms of sight loss. The Pharma Times reports that Faricimab has been developed by Roche to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO).

One of the advantages of the new treatment is that it can be administered at 16-week intervals, which is less frequent than current treatments for the named conditions. Clinical trials have proved that the new drug is equally as effective for reducing sight loss and improving vision as other widely used medicines, such as aflibercept.

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 as possible.”

She added: “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.”

NICE anticipate that the new drug will save costs for the treatment of an estimated 300,000 AMD patients and a further 28,000 DMO patients in the UK. Faricimab can be administered at 16-week intervals, compared to eight-week intervals for aflibercept, and it is thought that the results are just as effective.

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of sight loss charity the Macular Society, said: “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.”

AMD generally affects people over 55 and is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. According to the Macular Society, it affects around 600,000 people, and one in every 200 people in the UK suffers from AMD, rising to one in five by the age of 90.

Wet age-related AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing in the macula, which can leak blood or fluid. This can lead to scarring of the macular, which eventually causes loss of vision. The main risk factor for the condition is age, owing to the reduced cell regeneration process in the body.

The risk of developing AMD can be heightened by smoking, because the blood vessels in the eye are at increased risk of damage. A poor diet with a low intake of fruit and vegetables and a high sugar intake can also increase the risk, due to the reduced amount of antioxidants available, which have a protective effect and prolong the cell repair functions.

Excessive alcohol intake, high blood pressure, and a family history of AMD also make it more likely that a person will develop the condition.

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