Macular Disease Foundation Australia today applauded the Federal Government’s decision to place the registered drug ranibizumab (Lucentis) on the PBS, enabling patients affordable access to this sight saving treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema and Retinal Vein Occlusion.
The Foundation has been advocating strongly for access and affordability for registered treatment for these serious macular diseases, which can lead to vision loss and blindness. The treatment is administered as a series of injections into the eye.
“This is a great win for patients,” says Julie Heraghty, CEO, Macular Disease Foundation Australia.
“I congratulate Minister Ley for listening to our concerns and acting in the best interests of patients. Having access to and affordability of registered treatment in this country will save sight. This is what good health policy is about – improving the health outcomes of Australians.
“Diabetes is one of the greatest health challenges of our time and tackling this disease will require a co-ordinated and collaborative approach.
“We will need to work on prevention and early detection on all fronts and with all stakeholders. This announcement is an important component of tackling this enormous health challenge.”
Diabetic eye disease is a common complication of diabetes and the leading cause of blindness among working age adults in Australia. Everyone with diabetes is at risk of vision loss or blindness from DME.
“Having access to registered treatment will deliver the best chance of saving sight. The impact of vision loss is enormous to the individual, their family and the community – it is a giant ripple effect. This announcement by the Federal Government will make a difference,” says Heraghty.
Professor Paul Mitchell, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Sydney and a world expert on diabetic eye disease says he congratulates the Minister on this decision, which he says will change the lives of a huge number of people with diabetic eye disease.
“Almost everyone with type 1 diabetes will develop some form of diabetic eye disease within 20 years of diagnosis,” Prof Mitchell says.
“Of particular concern however is that many people with the more common type 2 diabetes will have already had the disease for many years by the time they are diagnosed.
“A large proportion of these people will develop potentially blinding diabetic retinopathy within five to 10 years of their diabetes diagnosis.”
This announcement is also very important for the treatment of RVO which affects about 1 to 2% of people over 40, although most cases occur in people over 60.
Saving sight from DME and RVO will avoid the emotional, social and economic costs to the individual and their families and the cost of blindness to Government and the taxpayer.