A new medicine that prevents loss of eyesight in people with diabetic eye disease has been approved for use in Scotland.
Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis announced yesterday (December 10) that the injectable drug Lucentis (Ranibizumab) has been given the green light for treatment of people in Scotland with vision impairment caused by diabetic macular oedema (DMO) – a common complication of diabetes mellitus.
This eye condition occurs when blood vessels in the retina of diabetic patients start to leak into the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision, as a result of prolonged high blood sugars. This causes the macula to swell, which can distort central vision and lead to severe sight loss .
In August 2012 Lucentis became the first medication to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating DMO, and the drug has now been licensed for the same purpose in Scotland.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) said the approval was based on the drug’s “superior” clinical effectiveness over laser eye surgery, which is currently the first line of treatment for patients with DMO.
While laser therapy stabilises vision, Lucentis has been shown in clinical trials to lead to significant rapid improvements in visual acuity for many patients with this severe diabetes-related eye condition.
Dr Peter Cackett, consultant ophthalmologist at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilio, said the announcement was “a momentous occasion for eye care in Scotland”.
“We have been using ranibizumab in the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration in Scotland since 2007 with good results and we hope to achieve similar improved outcomes for patients with diabetic macular oedema now that ranibizumab has been approved for this condition,” he added.
John Legg, director of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland, commented: “Diabetic macular oedema is the leading cause of blindness among the working age population in Scotland and can have a significant impact on many aspects of a person’s life, such as working, driving and socialising.
“Ranibizumab is a treatment which offers real hope for some patients, many of whom may otherwise lose their sight completely.”

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