Department of Health asks NICE to look into Avastin use for eye conditions
The Department of Health has asked NICE to explore with stakeholders what value we can add in advising the NHS on the clinical and cost effectiveness of Avastin (bevacizumab) to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the UK, and other conditions affecting the eye.
The Department of Health has also asked the NHS Health Technology Assessment programme to commission work to identify the existing and expected evidence on the use of Avastin in the eye.
Although the Institute does not normally appraise drugs outside of their licensed indications (known as ‘off-label' prescribing), we can do so at the request of the Department of Health. For example, The Department of Health has previously asked the Institute to look at off-label use during the development oftechnology appraisal guidance on the use of immunosuppressive drugs for renal transplantation in children and adolescents.
Eye conditions, such as wet AMD, are caused by abnormal growth of blood vessels around the eye and can be treated by stopping the growth of a natural protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Avastin functions by stopping tumour growth by preventingthe formation of new blood vessels. It does this by targeting and inhibiting the function of VEGF that stimulates new blood vessel formation.
Two clinical trials comparing the use of the drug against the current treatment Lucentis (ranibizumab) are expected to report inlate 2011 and early 2012 respectively.
Avastin is being used as a treatment for eye conditions by some NHS trusts as an alternative to Lucentis, which is licensed for the condition and which NICE recommended for use in August 2008.
Ministers have not made a decision at this stage to refer Avastin in this off-label indication to NICE. The work we have been asked to carry out is to explore whether it is possible to undertake an appraisal and canvass the views of stakeholders on the issue. We will report back to the Department of Health with our findings in early summer.
30 March 2010
This page was last updated: 10 June 2010