Guidance offers best practice and advice for adopting biosimilar ranibizumab

The Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme is sharing practical advice and example case studies supporting ophthalmology and pharmacy teams to adopt biosimilar alternatives to the drug Lucentis®​ – potentially saving the NHS up to £45m per year.

GIRFT has worked with the NHS England Medicines Value and Access teams to develop the Adopting biosimilar ranibizumab guidance, which is also supported by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Lucentis® (originator ranibizumab) is used for the treatment of common eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO). Ranibizumab biosimilars are considered interchangeable and therapeutically equivalent to Lucentis® for quality, safety and effectiveness. As such, there are now three biosimilars authorised for use in the NHS, which offer best value as they are considerably cheaper.

​Data shows that 19% of trusts have completely switched to the biosimilars​, and 30% now use biosimilars for some of their prescribing​, leaving 51% of trusts with an opportunity to start switching.

The new GIRFT guide uses case studies from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust ​and The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust ​to demonstrate how patients can be safely and easily switched to the biosimilar alternatives. It also offers a series of FAQs to answer some common questions asked by clinical teams.

The lower costs of biosimilar ranibizumab mean there is a potential saving of up to £45m in 2023/24 if all trusts could switch from Lucentis® – that’s equivalent to the cost of more than 58,000 low-complexity cataract procedures.

"Lucentis® has been recommended by NICE since 2008, and biosimilar alternatives were approved and available from August 2022. Following this, the figures on switching have been really encouraging. Nearly 20% of trusts have completely switched and a further 30% are using biosimilars for some of their ranibizumab prescribing. All other trusts should now be actively considering switching programmes.”

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