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Macular Degeneration

Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what provision is available in the Province for treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration; and whether pegaptanib sodium injections may be used within the NHS in Northern Ireland for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration. (119148)

Specialised treatments are available for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, including photodynamic therapy, which is provided by ophthalmologists at the Royal Victoria hospital, Belfast.

It is for health and social services boards, as commissioners of services, to prioritise how funding is used, taking into account local circumstances, the strategic objectives established for the HPSS and demands and pressures generally for access to a wide range of new effective drug therapies. None of the boards currently funds the use of pegaptanib sodium injections.

In determining the priorities for funding, we would expect boards to take account of the available evidence of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of any treatment. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently assessing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of pegaptanib, and the Institute’s final guidance is expected in October 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to ensure that the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety provides funding to treat wet age-related macular degeneration sufferers with a licensed anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, when such treatment is recommended by an ophthalmologist, from now until the publication of National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines later in 2007. (126318)

The Department has allocated an additional £24 million to health and social services boards in 2006-07 and 2007-08 for specialist hospital drugs. It is for the health and social services boards, as commissioners of services, to prioritise how funding is used, taking into account local circumstances, the strategic objectives established for the HPSS and demands and pressures generally for access to a wide range of new effective drug therapies.

In determining their priorities for funding, we would expect boards to take account of the available evidence of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of any treatment. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is currently assessing the clinical and cost effectiveness of pegaptanib and ranibizumab, and the Institute's final guidance is expected in September 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans are in place to treat those with wet age-related macular degeneration in Northern Ireland with new treatments which have recently become available. (126319)

It is for the health and social services boards to plan and commission services for the people in their areas. Specialised treatments are available for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, including photodynamic therapy, which is provided by ophthalmologists at the Royal Victoria hospital, Belfast.

Two treatments for wet AMD, pegaptanib and ranibizumab, are currently being appraised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Institute is expected to publish its guidance in September 2007. When the appraisal guidance is published, the Department will consider the applicability of the NICE guidance to the health and personal social services.