To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what correspondence his Department has had with NHS England in the last two months on the use of unlicensed treatments for age-related macular degeneration; and if he will place copies of such correspondence in the Library.
23 March 2015
The use of unlicensed medicines to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has been the subject of discussions between the Department, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and other stakeholders over several years. We can confirm that we have recently received several letters from National Health Service commissioners regarding the unlicensed use of Avastin for the treatment of wet AMD, and a copy of my response is attached. We have also been in contact with the company that manufactures Avastin. We have stressed that clinical commissioning groups’ commissioning policies must respect the European legislation and guidance from the General Medical Council (GMC) and MHRA that prohibits the supply of an unlicensed medicine where a licensed one is available, unless there is a “special need” which means that the unlicensed treatment is better suited to the clinical need of an individual patient.
Recent discussions and correspondence with the MHRA and NHS England relate to the ongoing development of Government policy in this area. In order to maintain the delivery of effective Government, it would not be appropriate to publish information about the contents of these discussions or to place any related correspondence in the Library. Departmental officials have had no recent discussions on the use of unlicensed treatments for the treatment of AMD with the GMC.