France to Pay for Macular Degeneration Treatments

With awareness of macular degeneration increasing and new diagnostic technologies resulting in earlier detection of the disease, many governments are faced with making decisions regarding coverage for treatments.  France has announced it will funding to macular degeneration patients for the drug Lucentis.  In making this announcement, France is providing their citizens with what is currently the best treatment available for this eye disease.

Lucentis has become the leading treatment for the wet macular degeneration and while it dramatically improves a person’s quality of life, it does come at an expensive price tag.  The use of anti-VEGF drugs to to treat macular degeneration has become the leading treatment for macular degeneration.  The use of drugs such as Lucentis has been on the rise in France as health authorities in that country have authorized full reimbursement for what they are dubbing the best drug shown to provide the best standard of care to those people diagnosed with macular degeneration.

The French Government has invested heavily in the program to provide macular degeneration patients with the best treatment for wet macular degeneration, Lucentis (ranibuzumab), produced by the pharmaceutical company Genentech.  This has been done without regard for the price of the drug and is being done to simply provide the best standard of care to patients.  Authorities have indicated that this is no different than providing cancer patients with the best drugs for treating their disease.

In making the resources available for Lucentis treatments for macular degeneration, the French Government has raised the bar very high for other governments.  While other countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom are contemplating whether they will provide coverage or establishing criteria for which coverage will be available, the French Government has indicated there is no predetermined limits on the number of treatments for this eye disease.   Patients will be monitored regularly to determine the number and frequencies of Lucentis injections required.  There is no criteria to meet for coverage, it is simply provided to all macular degeneration patients requiring the treatment.

Patients are free to obtain the Lucentis treatment at whatever health care centre they have been recommended to by their physician, regardless of it being a private or public facility.

By providing coverage for Lucentis, France has also eliminated the controversy surrounding the off-label use of Avastin (bevacizumab).  Authorities have indicated that there is no need for physicians to prescribe a drug that has not been through clinical trials in treating the eye disease.

For those patients where Lucentis and the other anti-VEGF drugs are not an option, patients will still be able to take photodynamic therapy (PDT) utilizing Visudyne and a cold laser.