The Federal Government has announced it will place Eylea (aflibercept), developed by Bayer, on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), enabling patients affordable access to the first new treatment in five years for neovascular (wet) Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
AMD is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Australia. Macular Degeneration Foundation CEO, Julie Heraghty said the Foundation welcomes the announcement. “This means that Eylea is now not only approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as safe and effective but is now affordable for patients, following the Government’s swift action,” she said.
Until recently, the only treatment for wet AMD has been ranibizumab, which is administered with a series of injections into the eye. Eylea is also administered as a series of injections into the eye by an ophthalmologist however studies have shown that for many patients, treatment with Eylea requires less frequent injections. This can reduce costs and the burden of treatment.
“We know that early detection and treatment is critical in order to save sight. Eylea is another option for the treatment of wet AMD, using a different dosing regimen compared to the current treatment,” said Ms. Heraghty.
Eylea is another option for the treatment of wet AMD, using a different dosing regimen compared to the current treatment
According to The Macular Degeneration Foundation there is one last hurdle to make Eylea fully accessible and that is to have switching between treatments approved. The PBS decision currently only provides reimbursement for patients who are new to drug treatment.
The Foundation believes ophthalmologists should be able to choose to switch between treatments where appropriate and is now working to have this approved.
Eylea was approved in Australia for the treatment of wet AMD by the TGA in March 2012. Macular Degeneration leads to loss of central vision, affecting the ability to read, drive, recognise faces and perform every day activities. One in seven Australians over the age of 50 (one million people) have some evidence of MD, a chronic disease with a prevalence four times that of dementia and more than half that of diabetes.