Below is a statement from the Royal National Institute of Blind People speaking out against plans to ration treatment for people losing their sight in Devon.
Use of Avastin for the treatment of wet Age-related Macular Degeneration
RNIB Policy Position Statement
"We are very concerned about commissioners imposing any changes which effectively result in a blanket ban on the use of NICE approved treatments for wet Age-related Macular Degeneration. Treatments work in different ways so a patient may respond to one drug but not another.
"Patient choice is paramount. It is imperative that the decision on what treatment is most beneficial is made by the patient in conjunction with their clinician's expertise. No patient should be denied access to a potential sight-saving drug.
"Equally, clinicians must not be pressurised into prescribing a specific treatment for wet Age-related Macular Degeneration. They must be allowed to use their clinical judgement, to decide which drug to use. The General Medical Council states that doctors should not prescribe unlicensed medicines if a licensed alternative is available and doctors should not be forced to do something that goes against this guidance.
"One safety concern we continue to have is the fact that there is no mandatory process in place for reporting adverse events related to the use of unlicensed treatments, as there is for licensed therapies. For unlicensed treatments, reporting is voluntary which is just not enough of a safeguard. If Avastin is to be used, a national body must be identified to take responsibility for patient safety and the monitoring of adverse events related to the use of this drug in the eye.
"Finally, we continue to call for the Secretary of State for Health to instruct the regulators (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to review the use of Avastin for use in the eye."