The pharmaceutical company Novartis is challenging the use of a cheaper alternative to its drug Lucentis for a common cause of loss of vision.
The NHS in four areas in the south of England agreed last year that a drug called Avastin could be prescribed for the condition wet AMD.
Lucentis is recommended for use by the NHS drugs watchdog NICE.
Avastin is not officially approved for eye conditions, but is being widely used off licence.
Severe loss of vision
Wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a common cause of loss of vision in older people.
According to the NHS, around 70% of people with wet AMD will experience severe loss of sight within two years of being diagnosed.
Lucentis, which costs around Ł740 per injection, is the treatment officially recommended to the NHS in England by the independent advisor NICE.
It was developed for use in eye conditions and has been given a European licence, or safety approval, for treating wet AMD.
The NHS in Southampton, Hampshire, The Isle of Wight and Portsmouth decided last year that it would also pay for the use of Avastin, where it was prescribed by an opthamologist.
Avastin costs around Ł60 per injection, and has to be used off licence as it has not been formally approved for use in eyes.
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