Access to Treatment - Lucentis and new treatment Eylea - "switching"
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. 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 later in 2012. Once available, it then needs to be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as quickly as possible so it is not only accessible but also affordable. The MD Foundation will be advocating on your behalf to have Eylea placed on the PBS as soon as possible.
Clinical trial data indicate that Lucentis and Eylea produce very similar results, however the dosing regimen for Eylea is different. The committee that advises the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has determined that switching will not be allowed from Lucentis to Eylea. Once you have started on the treatment, you will have to stay on the treatment.
The Foundation's position is that switching of treatments should be allowed between both drugs and ultimately, the choice of which drug is most suitable for the patient must be a decision made between the doctor and the patient. The MD Foundation is now making representations on your behalf to the Minister for Health and the Department of Health and Ageing to produce an outcome which is in the best interests of the patient. If required, we will call on your postcard sending assistance to help provide the patient perspective on the need for switching of drugs.