FINANCE: The Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed to support Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust decision to allow clinicans to prescribe an unlicensed medicine.

Minutes from the CCG’s meeting reveal the board backed the acute trust’s decision to offer patients with wet age related macular degeneration a choice of the licenced Ranibizumab, known as Lucentis, and the significantly cheaper but unlicenced Bevacizumab, known as Avastin.

However, the CCG agreed GP practices would continue to use Lucentis and wait for more data to emerge about Avastin from clinical trials.

Avastin, licenced to treat bowel cancer, can be up to ten times cheaper than Lucentis but has not been tested for use in the eye. Novartis, which markets Lucentis, has begun judicial review proceedings against another primary care trust cluster over its decision to allow the use of its unlicenced competitor.