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Sight loss drug to improve the lives of thousands of people after NHS approval

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Faricimab, sold under the title Vabysmo, is an eye injection made by Roche, which works by reducing vision loss in people with wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) or diabetic macular oedema (DMO). The jab can be given less frequently to selected patients, experts say – and some will be able to take up to 16 weeks between doses, compared to eight on one current treatment, aflibercept.

After approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) last week, faricimab has been given the green light by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) for use on the NHS.

Nice said up to 300,000 people in England with AMD could be eligible for it, together with 28,000 people with DMO.

Helen Knight, interim director for medicines evaluation at Nice, said: “We are determined to drive innovations like these into the hands of clinicians to help patients as soon as possible.

“We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in other healthcare organisations to ensure we deliver progressive treatments which balance the best care with value for money, delivering both for individuals and society as a whole.”

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of sight loss charity the Macular Society, celebrated the news and its likely impact for patients.

She explained: “Those with wet AMD and DMO face the burden of regular hospital visits to receive the vital treatment they need to save their sight.

“However, we know these trips can be arduous and often depend on family and friends’ support, sometimes as often as every four weeks.

“We are delighted that a new treatment option, which has the potential to maintain vision and help minimise the number of hospital visits, will be made available to patients in England.

“This will make a real difference to the lives of many people living with this devastating condition.”

After conversations with NHS England, pharmaceutical company Roche offered the health service a discount on the drug.

Thom Renwick, ophthalmology lead at the firm, said it was “delighted with the decision” to recommend the remedy.

He added: “Faricimab is the first and only bispecific antibody licensed in Britain for the treatment of the most common sight-threatening retinal conditions.”

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