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GMC is criticised for refusing to disclose reasons behind its advice to support prescribing for Lucentis rather than Avastin for wet AMD

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h1981 (Published 13 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1981
  1. Deborah Cohen
  1. 1The BMJ

Doctors, commissioners, and drug safety experts have criticised the UK General Medical Council for a lack of transparency over its prescribing guidance and for conflating European laws governing drug marketing with laws governing drug prescribing.

The criticism came after a BMJ investigation showed that ophthalmologists in the United Kingdom were loth to prescribe the cheap and effective drug bevacizumab (Avastin) for wet age related macular degeneration rather than the more expensive ranibizumab (Lucentis), out of fear of legal action.1

Their reluctance to prescribe the cheaper drug arises from guidance issued by the GMC, which says that doctors should not prescribe an “unlicensed” drug when there is a licensed alternative and that they should not prescribe a drug for an indication or condition for which it hasn’t a licence (off-label prescribing).

The GMC maintains its position despite the fact that a Cochrane review has found that the cheaper drug was just as effective as the more expensive one.

Writing …

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