Groups Want Govt. of Australia to Extend Eylea Subsidies to Patients Currently Undergoing Treatment

( People living with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are asking the Government of Australia to be more inclusive as per subsidies for an exciting new medication to treat the eye sickness, reported The Australian on June 26.

According to the article, the federal government said recently that aflibercept, a new medication also known as Eylea, would be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The drug is used to treat people dealing with the wet form of AMD, an eye ailment that over time robs sufferers of their vision.

According to the article, 12% of people in the country who are older than 50, translating to approximately 850,000 people, have AMD.  Even so, doctors have had improved success combating the progression of the illness since Lucentis hit the scene back in 2007. In order to treat people with AMD, Lucentis is injected into their eyeballs every month to six weeks. The new treatment, Eylea, needs to be injected into patients’ eyeballs once monthly for the first three months and, following this period, bimonthly.

Although experts applauded the move to add Eylea to the PBS, some of these experts were none too pleased when Australia’s health minister, Tanya Plibersek, said that the federal government would heed a recommendation provided by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. The committee, according to the article, advised that the federal government should only subsidize Eylea for persons who have not previously been given treatment for AMD. Groups against this position are crossing their fingers with the hopes that the federal government will reconsider its position before Eylea is made available later in 2012.

Macular Degeneration Foundation CEO Julie Heraghty said in the article that the majority of medical professionals who her group has talked to are of the opinion that people currently using Lucentis should be permitted to switch over to Eylea.

According to the article, the cost of Lucentis and Eylea are roughly the same, which means that taxpayers and patients in Australia would save money.

University of Sydney Professor of Ophthalmology said in the article not only that Lucentis has worked very well at warding off blindness, but also that Eylea will likely do the same.



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