Treatment to tackle the country’s two leading causes of blindness[1],[2] now funded on the Pharmaceutical Schedule


Treatment to tackle the country’s two leading causes of blindness[1],[2] now funded on the Pharmaceutical Schedule

Auckland, May 31, 2018Bayer has announced that from 1 June, EYLEA® (aflibercept) will be accessible as the second-line treatment option for Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration (wet-AMD) and Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO) and will be made available in both hospitals and the community. PHARMAC funding was granted earlier this month and is expected to benefit around 900 people in its first year.1


Retina specialist and ophthalmologist, Dr Dianne Sharp says the approval from PHARMAC is a step forward for improved outcomes for people at risk of preventable blindness.


“It is excellent to have the availability and funding of EYLEA for patients with age related macular degeneration or diabetic macular oedema who have not responded to other treatment options. I have used it on a number of patients over the past five years and it has helped improve or at least stabilise the vision of patients who were losing vision. To have it more readily available as an affordable treatment option is a welcomed outcome for both patients and clinicians,” she says.


“Blindness from macular degeneration no longer needs to be an inevitable part of the ageing process,” says ophthalmologist and retinal specialist, Dr Andrew Thompson of Macular Degeneration New Zealand.


“With improved access to EYLEA, I now have a significantly better chance of improving, or at least maintaining, a patient’s vision and independence when other treatments are ineffective. I believe every patient has a right to sight and now financial circumstances won’t dictate a person’s access - PHARMAC’s decision to fund EYLEA has made this achievable.”


Bayer Pharmaceutical’s General Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Nelson Ambrogio said he was delighted with the news.


“Bayer welcomes PHARMAC’s decision to fund EYLEA. The impact this will have for people living with the debilitating disease of wet age related macular degeneration and diabetic macular oedema will be significant. This is an important milestone for New Zealand and a step in the right direction in treating the two leading causes of blindness in the country.”1,2


Wet-AMD is the most common cause of blindness in New Zealand.2,[3] One in seven people over the age of 50 is affected by the illness and numbers are expected to rise with the country’s ageing population.2,[4]If untreated, most patients will become blind within two years.2


DMO is a condition resulting from complications of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 25-74.1Over 240,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes in New Zealand, with 100,000 more suspected to be undiagnosed. A disproportionate number are of Māori and Pacific Island descent with the rate of the illness two to three times higher than other ethnicities.2,[5],[6]All people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) are at risk of contracting DMO, but with early detection and timely treatment, vision loss can be prevented.2


The introduction of EYLEA as an alternative treatment for patients with wet-AMD and DMO provides more cost-effective options and reduces potential discomfort, as EYLEA requires less frequent injections for ongoing treatment.1