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Local health chiefs aim to save millions of pounds

In a bold move, health chiefs from NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group will be asking its Governing Body on Thursday to approve plans to explore the opportunities of prescribing an alternative drug to treat age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

ARMD is the most common cause of vision loss in people aged 50 or over. It causes a gradual loss of central vision which is needed for detailed work and activities such as reading and driving. Visual loss can occur within months, or over many years depending on the type and severity of ARMD and cannot normally be reversed.

Dr Andrew Phillips said: “The CCG has been working with partner commissioners to look at ways of implementing a Bevacizumab service for our patients for the last 3 years.

“In 2012, two trials confirmed that Bevacizumab and Ranibizumab are equivalent in efficacy. In September 2014, the Cochrane Review; the top authority on medical research, stated that the two drugs are equally safe.

“Now there are only two things standing between us and a new service. Firstly the GMC must alter its guidance, albeit only slightly. Secondly NICE must carry out an appraisal of Bevacizumab.

“Once this is done we can institute a new service that would save the CCG £4million a year.

“The CCG has a responsibility to commission quality healthcare and for spending its budget effectively.  This means that we have to make difficult decisions around the allocation of resources, sometimes placing restrictions on the availability of treatments.

“The CCG could save £4m per year if it prescribed bevacizumab. Putting that into perspective, £4m is the equivalent of either; the running of a full A&E department for six months, 5000 cataract operations or an eight bed neo-natal intensive care unit for one year.

NHS Vale of York CCG will be making its formal request to explore the opportunities of prescribing bevacizumab (Avastin) to treat age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) to its Governing Body on Thursday 4 December 2014.

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