Hundreds of people with diabetes are set to benefit from the funding of a new treatment that will help prevent blindness.

Media release Medicines

From 1 November 2017 dexamethasone implants (brand name Ozurdex) will be funded for eligible people with diabetic macular oedema (DMO), a serious complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes that can cause blindness if untreated.

The dexamethasone implants will be funded for people who have diabetic macular oedema, have had cataract surgery and meet the other special authority criteria.

PHARMAC Director of Operations, Sarah Fitt, says the new treatment is a significant advance in the way diabetic macular oedema is treated for those who meet the criteria.

“The dexamethasone implants are a new type of treatment for DMO that provides longer lasting treatment, that is more convenient for people,” says Ms Fitt.

“Before this treatment, people with DMO who have had cataract surgery would need regular injections in their eye at least once a month. This new treatment is a potent steroid that slowly dissolves in the eye over time, and people only need to have this every 3-6 months,” says Ms Fitt.

Dexamethasone implants will also have significant benefits for the wider health sector, reducing numbers of ophthalmology procedures and reduced costs to DHB hospitals.

“The change in treatment frequency means people with DMO won’t need to see ophthalmologists as often, allowing these specialists to treat more people with other serious eye conditions.”

Eligible patients with diabetic macular oedema will be able to access funded dexamethasone implants from 1 November 2017. They should talk to their general practitioner or ophthalmologist for more information on this new treatment.

Further details and background can be found in the notification published on the PHARMAC website.