A High Court ruling in the U.K. against drugmakers Novartis and Bayer could save the National Health Service hundreds of millions each year, according to a BBC report.
The drugmakers were attempting to stop NHS physicians from prescribing to patients Avastin, a cheaper therapy to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
According to the report, the two more expensive drugs are Lucentis (561 pounds) and Eylea (800 pounds). Avastin costs about 28 pounds per injection.
While the cheaper alternative is used around the world, it is only licensed for cancer treatment in the U.K.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in January found that Avastin was as safe and effective as Lucentis and Eylea.
Royal College of Ophthalmologists President Mike Burden told the BBC the ruling could save the NHS about 500 million pounds a year.
“Licensing laws are designed to protect patients from poorly regulated unproven drugs, but it is the drug companies’ responsibility to apply for a license,” he said.
A spokesperson for Novartis expressed the drugmaker’s disapproval of the decision.
“Novartis is deeply disappointed in this decision and remains of the opinion that the policy undermines the well-established legal and regulatory framework that is there to protect both patients’ safety and to ensure health care professionals can prescribe with confidence,” the spokesperson said.