BBC News: NHS to save ‘hundreds of millions’ in landmark (Avsatin) drug ruling

21 September 2018
Source: BBC News

A landmark ruling against two leading drug companies could save the NHS “hundreds of millions” a year.

Novartis and Bayer were trying to stop NHS doctors from prescribing a cheaper treatment for a serious eye condition.

Twelve NHS bodies in the north east of England were offering patients Avastin, a cheaper alternative to the licensed drug, Lucentis.

Health bosses said the ruling may reduce the power of companies to set prices.
Drug company Novartis said they were “deeply disappointed” because patients were being asked to accept an unlicensed treatment to save the NHS money.

David Hambleton, chief executive officer of NHS South Tyneside clinical commissioning group (CCG), one of the NHS groups involved in the case, welcomed the judgment, saying it was a good day for patients and the NHS.

“We’ve always said we think that it’s important that patients should have the choice of a very effective treatment for wet AMD, and it’s actually a fraction of the cost of the other alternatives.

“So I think what we do now is offer patients that choice. We believe that they will support very strongly having a cost-effective, safe treatment and saving the NHS generally a lot of money. It is a victory for common sense over commercial interests.”

Mike Burdon, President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists said: “Licensing laws are designed to protect patients from poorly regulated unproven drugs, but it is the drug companies’ responsibility to apply for a licence.

We are treating 40,000 new diagnoses of wet AMD annually – the saving could amount to £500 million a year. This amounts to one district hospital being built annually.”

Read the full story on the BBC News website

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