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New Zealand subsidises Eylea for AMD and DMO

The New Zealand Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC) has added Eylea (aflibercept) to the Pharmaceutical Schedule as the second-line treatment option for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO).

The addition is expected to benefit around 900 people in its first year, and retina specialist and ophthalmologist, Dr Dianne Sharp, said the approval was a step towards improved outcomes for people at risk of preventable blindness.

“It is excellent to have the availability and funding of Eylea for patients with age related macular degeneration or diabetic macular oedema who have not responded to other treatment options,” Sharp said.

"Blindness from macular degeneration no longer needs to be an inevitable part of the ageing process."
Andrew Thompson, MDNZ

“I have used it on a number of patients over the past five years and it has helped improve or at least stabilise the vision of patients who were losing vision. To have it more readily available as an affordable treatment option is a welcomed outcome for both patients and clinicians.”

Neovascular-AMD is the most common cause of blindness in New Zealand, with one in seven people over the age of 50 affected by the illness. Meanwhile, DMO is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 25–74, and over 240,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes in New Zealand, with 100,000 more suspected to be undiagnosed.

Diabetes and DMO disproportionately affect Maori and Pacific Islanders, with the rate of illness 2–3x higher than other ethnicities, but Dr Andrew Thompson of Macular Degeneration New Zealand (MDNZ) said PHARMAC’s decision would increase access to sight saving treatments for everyone in the country.

“Blindness from macular degeneration no longer needs to be an inevitable part of the ageing process,” Thompson said.

“With improved access to Eylea, I now have a significantly better chance of improving, or at least maintaining, a patient’s vision and independence when other treatments are ineffective. I believe every patient has a right to sight and now financial circumstances won’t dictate a person’s access – PHARMAC’s decision to fund Eylea has made this achievable.”

Image courtesy: Pixabay | DarkoStojanovic

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