The Macular Degeneration Foundation (MDF) today welcomed the decision by the Federal Government to list the sight-saving treatment, Lucentis®; on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 August 2007.
Chief Executive Officer of the MDF, Julie Heraghty said, “This is fantastic news. It means that some 17,700 Australians diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) each year, could potentially have their existing sight saved and for some even restore vision.” 1
Clinical trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year show more than 78% of Lucentis-treated patients gained some vision. 2 3
The leading cause of blindness in Australia, macular degeneration (MD), affects one in seven Australians over the age of 50 and the incidence increases with age.4 An Access Economics Report released last year revealed that AMD costs Australians $2.6 billion a year.5
Founding Director of the MDF and leading retina specialist, Dr Paul Beaumont said, “The Government’s decision is a giant step forward in the battle to beat macular degeneration. It is a great win for patients, their families and their carers across Australia.”
Ms Heraghty said, “We know that with wet MD, early detection and treatment is critical in order to save sight. Having a treatment that has been approved by the regulatory authority and is also PBS reimbursed is the best result that we could have expected.”
“Macular degeneration is silently taking away the sight of many aged Australians. A recent report identified the psychological impact of vision loss through MD was comparable to that of cancer. The incidence of fractures and falls is also having an impact on quality of life for older Australians,” said Ms Heraghty.
An 83 year old Victorian, Mrs Irene Ryan, has been receiving the treatment for Wet AMD since August last year and stated that it has made a significant difference to her vision and quality of life.
“Before the treatment, everything was very blurry. I couldn’t see the faces of people coming towards me or cross the road safely because the MD was affecting my central vision. Since receiving the treatment, I have really noticed an improvement in my vision, which enables me to continue being an independent person with quality of life.” said Mrs Ryan.
6 June 2007