NHS roll out of sight loss reversal therapy.
A life-changing treatment to reverse injury-related sight loss is now available to patients at four specialist centres across England, thanks to a partnership between Newcastle Hospitals and Italian medicines manufacturer Holostem Terapie Avanzate S.r.l.
The advanced therapy, known as Holoclar, uses stem cells to treat sight loss due to physical or chemical burns. The treatment is made by taking healthy cells from the patient’s uninjured eye before sending them to Italy where they are used to cultivate a new corneal epithelium – the clear ‘barrier’ that protects the eye.
The product must be transplanted onto the damaged eye within 36 hours of release. This short shelf life makes timing critical and legislative constraints were making it difficult to import Holoclar quickly enough to carry out the treatment.
Adam Walker, specialist quality assurance pharmacist at Newcastle Hospitals, explains how his team worked to unlock access for the wider NHS:
“Over a number of months, our quality assurance pharmacists provided advice, guidance and support to overcome the import challenge and develop appropriate regulatory authorisations.
“Our work addressed the supply constraints, making the treatment quickly and easily available for NHS use, so specialist centres can now restore the sight of the patients who receive it.
“Using the same authorisations, our team is now in a position to assist other manufacturers to offer innovative products within the NHS.”
The new distribution model is fundamental to making the treatment available to NHS patients.
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