Cost regulators for the NHS in England and Wales have now issued final guidelines permitting routine use of Santen’s Ikervis to treat severe keratitis in adults with dry eye disease which has not improved despite treatment with artificial tears.

Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea caused by reduced tear production or excessive tear evaporation, characterised by symptoms such as irritation and redness in the eyes, blurred vision, and a sensation of grittiness or a foreign body in the eye. If left untreated, it can result in blindness in severe cases.

Ikervis blocks the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the cornea and tear gland, helping to increase the eyes' natural ability to produce tears while reducing inflammation. 

“Severe dry eye disease is painful and can have a significant negative effect on day-to-day life for people with the condition,” said Meindert Boysen, Programme Director at NICE, noting that the new guidelines are sure to be welcomed by patients and healthcare professionals alike.

The acquisition cost of a monthly course of Ikervis is £72 (excluding VAT), but costs may vary in different settings because of negotiated procurement discounts.

Earlier this year, NICE said evidence submitted for the drug was too uncertain, but Santen subsequently responded to its call for more information to help convince the Institute of its cost-effectiveness. The medicine has been also accepted for use by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.