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Affordable access to sight-saving drugs critical



Diabetic Eye Disease
Macular Disease Foundation Australia has welcomed the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee’s (PBAC) positive recommendation to list aflibercept (Eylea) for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME). The treatment is administered as a series of injections into the eye.
Julie Heraghty, CEO of Macular Disease Foundation Australia stated "there are now two registered treatments recommended for listing for DME being aflibercept (Eylea) and ranibizumab (Lucentis).  

"It is now critical that these registered treatments are formally listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as quickly as possible so that patients have affordable access to sight-saving drugs," said Ms Heraghty.

They have both been shown to save sight, and in many cases, regain lost vision, in numerous, large, randomised controlled trials."
Diabetic eye disease is the main cause of serious vision loss and blindness in working age Australians and is considered a significant health risk world-wide.

With the current diabetes epidemic, access to sight-saving treatment is critical.  Almost 1.1 million Australians have diagnosed (known) diabetes. Of these 300,000 have some degree of diabetic retinopathy and about 65,000 have progressed to sight-threatening eye disease.
Diabetes is Australia’s fastest growing chronic disease (ref 1), and everyone who has diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic eye disease which can progress to diabetic macular edema. The frightening reality is that most people with type 1 diabetes and over 60% of people with type 2 diabetes will develop diabetic eye disease within 20 years of diagnosis (ref 2).

Saving sight from DME will avoid the emotional, social and economic costs to the individual and their families and the cost of blindness to Government and the taxpayer.
 
Media contact: Chief Executive Officer - Julie Heraghty 0411 104 457
 
References                                           
  1. Source: Diabetes Australia http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/UnderstandingDiabetes/Diabetes-in-Australia/
  2. Yau J, et al. Diabetes Care. 2012; 35:556-564
  3. Out of Sight  Baker IDI Report  CERA 2013
  
Macular Disease Foundation Australia
Macular Disease Foundation Australia’s vision is to reduce the incidence and impact of macular disease in Australia through education, awareness, research, support services and representation. The Foundation is a national charity providing information, guidance and support on prevention, early detection, treatment and rehabilitation. The Foundation is the voice of the macular disease community, building healthy communities through the development of effective public policy, a sound knowledge base and strong relationships and partnerships. The Foundation’s work encompasses macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusions and a range of other macular diseases. 
For more information contact the Macular Disease Foundation Australia on 1800 111 709 or visit www.mdfoundation.com.au

Diabetic Eye Disease
Over one million Australian adults have been diagnosed with diabetes. Nearly as many are believed to have diabetes but are undiagnosed. The prevalence of diabetes is climbing rapidly posing major public health and economic concerns. Diabetes can result in a number of serious complications including diabetic eye disease. Most people with type 1 diabetes and over 60% of people with type 2 diabetes will develop diabetic eye disease within 20 years of diagnosis. The dramatic increase in diabetes prevalence is expected to substantially increase the number of people with diabetic eye disease. Early diagnosis and intervention can dramatically reduce vision loss.

Diabetic Macular Edema
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is a complication in some people who develop diabetic eye disease. High blood glucose levels can lead to damage of the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye. Over time, the vessels become weaker, and may become blocked. This can cause leakage of fluid or blood, and a reduction in the supply of oxygen (ischaemia) to the retina. In response to this lack of oxygen, new blood vessels may form in the retina. These new vessels are usually quite weak and can leak more fluid or blood, causing swelling and loss of vision. If these leaking vessels result in swelling of the central macula area it is called diabetic macular edema.
 
The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to develop signs of eye disease. In addition, periods of poorly controlled glucose levels increase the risk of developing diabetic eye disease earlier and of having more severe disease.