Patsy McGlone 25th February 2008
Written Answer from the Minister for Health
Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration
Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to confirm whether or not, in line with Scotland and significant numbers of Primary Care Trusts in England, that all patients, being treated for wet age related macular degeneration, can gain access to Intravitreal Triamcinolone Acetonide treatments for disease in their first eye, as recently recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence.
Mr M McGimpsey: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has not appraised or recommended intravitreal triamcinolone acetonide for treatment of wet age related macular degeneration (wet AMD).
NICE is currently appraising ranibizumab (Lucentis) and pegaptanib (Macugen) for the treatment of wet AMD and published preliminary recommendations for consultation in 2007. Final guidance is expected to be published in June 2008.
My Department has established a link with NICE whereby all guidance published by the Institute from 1 July 2006 is reviewed locally for its applicability to Northern Ireland and, where appropriate, is endorsed by the Department for implementation in Northern Ireland. The guidance on Lucentis and Macugen will be considered under these arrangements in due course.
In the interim, the decision on whether to fund a particular treatment is a matter for Health and Social Services Boards, as commissioners of services, taking into account local circumstances, the strategic objectives established for the HSC and demands and pressures generally for access to a wide range of new effective drug therapies. I understand that Boards are currently funding treatment with Lucentis or Macugen for patients with the greatest clinical priority.