Two very different eye treatments have won backing from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for the serious sight condition diabetic macular oedema, paving the way for their use by the National Health Service.

Two separate final guidances recommend Bayer Pharma’s injection Eylea (aflibercept) and Allergan’s implant Ozurdex (dexamethasone) as options for the condition, the most common cause of visual impairment in people with diabetes.

Eylea, a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor that prevents abnormal new blood vessels from forming under the retina, has been endorsed as long as the eye has a central retinal thickness of 400 micrometres or more at the start of treatment, and Bayer provides the drug with the discount agreed in the patient access scheme.

Ozurdex, which contains a corticosteroid that works by suppressing inflammation and preventing oedema, is only to be used in an eye with an intraocular (pseudophakic) lens, and when the condition does not respond to non-corticosteroid treatment or it is unsuitable.

DMO affects around 189,000 people with diabetes in the UK, and can have a substantial negative impact on quality of life and daily activities, according to NICE. Health Technology Evaluation Centre director Carol Longson said the recommendations “will be welcome news to both patients and healthcare professionals alike”.

Novartis’ Lucentis more cost effective?

In an interestingly timed release earlier this week, Novartis said an analysis has shown that its own VEGF inhibitor Lucentis (ranibizumab) - which was recommended for DMO back in 2013 - is more cost effective than Eylea in treating the condition.

The analysis, undertaken by Novartis and published in the ClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research, concluded that lifetime costs per patient of treating DMO were £20,019 for Lucentis and £25,859 for Bayer’s drug.