Thursday - May 31, 2018

Treatment to tackle the country’s two leading causes of blindness now funded on the Pharmaceutical Schedule

EYLEA® (aflibercept) is available under PHARMAC funding from 1 June for the treatment of Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration (wet-AMD) and Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO)

EYLEA® (aflibercept) is available under PHARMAC funding from 1 June for the treatment of Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration (wet-AMD) and Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO)(1)

Wet-AMD is the leading cause of blindness in New Zealand (1) 

DMO is the leading cause of blindness in working-age New Zealanders disproportionately affecting Māori and Pacific Islanders (1,2)


Auckland, May 31, 2018 – Bayer has announced that from 1 June, EYLEA® (aflibercept) will be accessible as the second-line treatment option for Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration (wet-AMD) and Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO) and will be made available in both hospitals and the community. PHARMAC funding was granted earlier this month and is expected to benefit around 900 people in its first year (1). 

Retina specialist and ophthalmologist, Dr Dianne Sharp says the approval from PHARMAC is a step forward for improved outcomes for people at risk of preventable blindness. 

“It is excellent to have the availability and funding of EYLEA for patients with age related macular degeneration or diabetic macular oedema who have not responded to other treatment options. I have used it on a number of patients over the past five years and it has helped improve or at least stabilise the vision of patients who were losing vision. To have it more readily available as an affordable treatment option is a welcomed outcome for both patients and clinicians,” she says.

“Blindness from macular degeneration no longer needs to be an inevitable part of the ageing process,” says ophthalmologist and retinal specialist, Dr Andrew Thompson of Macular Degeneration New Zealand. 

“With improved access to EYLEA, I now have a significantly better chance of improving, or at least maintaining, a patient’s vision and independence when other treatments are ineffective. I believe every patient has a right to sight and now financial circumstances won’t dictate a person’s access - PHARMAC’s decision to fund EYLEA has made this achievable.” 

Bayer Pharmaceutical’s General Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Nelson Ambrogio said he was delighted with the news.  

“Bayer welcomes PHARMAC’s decision to fund EYLEA. The impact this will have for people living with the debilitating disease of wet age related macular degeneration and diabetic macular oedema will be significant. This is an important milestone for New Zealand and a step in the right direction in treating the two leading causes of blindness in the country” (1,2).

Wet-AMD is the most common cause of blindness in New Zealand (2,3).  One in seven people over the age of 50 is affected by the illness and numbers are expected to rise with the country’s ageing population (2,4).  If untreated, most patients will become blind within two years (2). 

DMO is a condition resulting from complications of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 25-74.1 Over 240,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes in New Zealand, with 100,000 more suspected to be undiagnosed. A disproportionate number are of Māori and Pacific Island descent with the rate of the illness two to three times higher than other ethnicities (2,5,6). All people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) are at risk of contracting DMO, but with early detection and timely treatment, vision loss can be prevented (2).

The introduction of EYLEA as an alternative treatment for patients with wet-AMD and DMO provides more cost-effective options and reduces potential discomfort, as EYLEA requires less frequent injections for ongoing treatment (1).


About EYLEA ®

EYLEA is a FDA and Medsafe approved novel recombinant fusion protein which works by trapping excess vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the eye and has a higher binding affinity for VEGF than natural receptors have. Trapping excess VEGF limits the growth of abnormal blood vessels and hence reduces leakage. Treatment is administered via intraocular injection. After initial dosage, treatment plans can be tailored to each patient.   


Bayer: Science For A Better Life

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In New Zealand, we support numerous community and environmental causes, including United Way New Zealand, the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre and the New Zealand Innovation Awards.


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All medicines have side effects. Patients should speak with their doctor should they have any questions about their treatment. Further information about EYLEA® is available at:

EYLEA® (aflibercept)

EYLEA (aflibercept 40 mg/mL solution for intravitreal injection) is a Prescription Medicine to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), visual impairment due to macular oedema after central retinal vein occlusion (also known as CRVO), visual impairment due to macular oedema after branch retinal vein occlusion (also known as BRVO), diabetic macular oedema (DME), and visual impairment due to myopic choroidal neovascularisation (also known as myopic CNV). Wet AMD is an eye condition caused by leakage from new blood vessels in the back of the eye; CRVO is an eye condition caused by blockage in the main blood vessel that transports blood away from the retina in the back of your eye; BRVO is an eye condition caused by blockage in one or more branches of the main vessel that transports blood away from the retina in the back of your eye; and DME is a swelling of the retina occurring in patients with diabetes due to leakage of fluid from blood vessels within the retina. All these conditions can cause the macula to swell with fluid and progressively lead to vision loss. Myopic CNV is a severe form of myopia (short sightedness) which leads to extremely elongated eyes with additional defects in some layers in the back of the eye. This triggers the abnormal formation of new blood vessels which can cause bleeding into the eye and eventually may lead to loss of vision. Do not use if you are allergic to any ingredients in EYLEA; have an infection in or around your eye or are currently experiencing any pain or redness in your eyes. Use in pregnancy, while breast-feeding or children is not recommended. Tell your Doctor if you have any issues with previous eye injections; if you have an eye condition called glaucoma or any history of increased eye pressure (your doctor would need to monitor your eye pressure after each injection); if you have ever had a stroke or experienced transient signs of a stroke (also known as a “TIA” or “mini-stroke”); if you have previously had or are planning to have an eye surgery within the past or next four weeks. Do not drive or use machinery after your injection as you may experience some temporary problems with vision. Possible side effects include visual disturbance such as blurred vision or dark spots, eye pain or injection site pain, perception of having something floating in the eye or sensation that something is in the eye, increased tear production, bloodshot eye, eye swelling and increased eye pressure, any sudden decrease in sharpness of vision, blurry or hazy vision, flashes of light or sudden increase in floaters in the eye, rash, itching, hives on the skin. Tell your doctor immediately if you develop any signs or symptoms of an infection in the eye (e.g. severe eye pain, increased redness, increased sensitivity to light). Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any signs of a stroke (such as weakness or numbness of limbs or face, difficulty speaking or swallowing), any signs of heart attack (such as chest pain which may spread to the neck and shoulders) or any signs of severe allergic reaction (such as sudden signs of rash, itching or hives on the skin, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or other parts of the body, shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing). EYLEA has risks and benefits. Ask your Doctor if EYLEA is right for you. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your Doctor. EYLEA is not funded. A prescription charge and normal Doctor’s visit fees apply. Use only as directed. For more information read the Consumer Medicine Information in your product pack, at, or from Bayer New Zealand Limited, 3 Argus Place, Hillcrest, North Shore, Auckland 0627. Telephone 0800 233 988

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Forward-Looking Statements

This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

1  PHARMAC (2018), ‘Thousands of Kiwis will benefit from advances in treatment’,, last accessed 28 May 2018. 

2  Access Economics Pty Ltd (2010), ‘Clear Focus – The economic impact of vision loss in New Zealand in 2009’,, last accessed 28 May 2018. 

3  Macular Degeneration New Zealand (2018), ‘Home’,, last accessed 28 May 2018. 

4  Statistics New Zealand (2016), ‘National Population Projections: 2016 (base)-2068’,, last accessed 28 May 2018. 

5  Ministry of Health (2013), ‘Diabetes’,, last accessed 28 May 2018. 

6  PHARMAC (2018), ‘Decision to fund aflibercept and rivaroxaban’,, last accessed 28 May 2018. 

7  Medsafe (2016), ‘EYLEA Data Sheet’, data on file, last accessed 28 May 2018.