Legal Victory Will Save On Drugs Bill

A UK high court victory that will save the NHS millions of pounds on its drugs bill has been welcomed by health chiefs here.

The High Court case was brought against the NHS by drug firms Bayer and Novartis.

They had challenged the lawfulness of a policy by 12 north of England clinical commissioning groups to prescribe Avastin as the preferred treatment option for age related macular degeneration.

ARMD – known as ‘wet macular’ – is one of the biggest causes of vision loss among older people.

Treatment for ARMD is going to be offered at Noble’s Hospital later this year, rather than sending large numbers of patients off-island.

The Novartis and Bayer drugs cost £561 and £800 per injection respectively while Avastin costs £28 per injection. Patients need a course of treatment.

Avastin isn’t specifically licensed for eye treatments but is widely used around the world and is recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The judge ruled the CCGs’ policy to use Avastin was lawful – a decision welcomed by clinicians and politicians who believe it will reduce the power of drugs firms to set prices.

It’s opened the door for patients across the UK and the Isle of Man to be offered Avastin and will save a significant sum from the drugs bill.

Director of public health Dr Henrietta Ewart said:’This is excellent news for patients, taxpayers and the Department of Health and Social Care.

‘It means we will be able to offer patients a treatment which has been shown in clinical trials to be just as effective and safe as the more expensive versions but at a fraction of their cost.

‘This will free up significant funding for other areas of health and social care.’

Source: IOM Today