Macular Disease Foundation Australia has welcomed the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee’s (PBAC) positive recommendation to list ranibizumab (Lucentis) for the treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) and Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO).The treatment is administered as a series of injections into the eye.
It is critical that patients have access to registered treatments which, in numerous, large, randomised controlled trials, have been shown to save sight, and in many cases, regain vision already lost.
Julie Heraghty, CEO of Macular Disease Foundation Australia stated, "The Foundation has for over 18 months been advocating strongly for access and affordability for registered treatment for these serious macular diseases, which can lead to vision loss and blindness.
“Given the extended time it has taken for PBAC recommendation, the Foundation is calling on the Federal Government to ensure that access to this sight-saving treatment is not held up by red tape. The treatment for DME and RVO needs to be fast tracked for Cabinet approval and quickly made available for patients,” Ms Heraghty said.
With the current diabetes epidemic this is particularly important. Diabetes is Australia’s fastest-growing chronic disease1, and everyone who has diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic eye disease which can progress to diabetic macular edema. This is a complication of the disease leading to leaking fluid under the retina which can cause vision impairment and blindness if not treated. Diabetic eye disease is the main cause of serious vision loss and blindness in working age Australians.
The frightening reality is that most people with type 1 diabetes and over 60% of people with type 2 diabetes will develop diabetic eye disease within 20 years of diagnosis2.
The expected dramatic increase in diabetes prevalence in the coming decades will increase the number of people with diabetic eye disease and vision loss, placing pressure on the health system and the economy3. Awareness of the importance of eye tests, early detection, and access and affordability to treatment is the key to saving sight.
Retinal Vein Occlusion affects about 1 to 2% of people over 40, although most cases occur in people over 60.
Saving sight from diabetic eye disease and RVO will avoid the emotional, social and economic costs to the individual and their families and the cost of blindness to Government and the taxpayer.
1 Source: Diabetes Australia www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/UnderstandingDiabetes/Diabetes-in-Australia/
2 Yau J, et al. Diabetes Care. 2012; 35:556-564
3 Out of Sight Baker IDI Report CERA 2013
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22 August 2014