Second Sight Medical (NSDQ:EYES) said today that the U.K.’s National Health Service granted reimbursement for the company’s Argus II retinal prosthesis system for blind patients with retinitis pigmentosa.
The Argus II induces visual perception in blind patients with retinitis pigmentosa by stimulating of the retina’s remaining cells with electrical pulses, which allows for the perception of light patterns to the brain, the company said.
The U.K.’s NHS said that “a selective group of severely blind patients with Retinits Pigementosa can have access to the Argus II,” according to Second Sight.
“I’m delighted that our pioneering research has provided the evidence to support NHS England’s decision to fund the ‘bionic eye’ for the first time. I have seen first-hand how beneficial and life changing this technology has been to RP patients who are completely blind. We live in a visual world, so it is reassuring and life affirming for a person who is completely blind to regain some basic vision. This is a wonderful decision. For patients’ families, it is also a life-enhancing treatment, because it can mean less dependence for their loved ones,” Paulo Stanga of the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital said in prepared remarks.
Two implantation centers, the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital, will perform the procedures. Sylmar, Calif.-based Second Sight and the implanting hospitals will provide rehabilitation and support to patients receiving the Argus II.
“For patients with RP who have profound vision loss, the long-term benefits of the Argus II in restoring some useful vision may be life-changing. Perhaps most exciting is the potential ability of the Argus II to increase patients’ functional vision. With the Argus II, some patients can perform tasks that would not be possible without the device. Our work at Moorfields has shown that these changes last for many years after implantation for some patients and represent a stable, effective treatment for them. This funding underlines the Government’s ambition to position the UK as a global leader in medical innovation,” Dr. Lyndon da Cruz of the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said in a prepared statement.
Funding for the implantations will come from the Commissioning through Evaluation program, which is specifically designed for promising future treatments. Clinical and patient experience data will be collected within a formal evaluation program, Second Sight said.
“This is a major milestone for Second Sight because we are the only company able to demonstrate a favorable long-term benefit-to-risk statement up to five years after implantation for some RP patients. NHS England is known to be under significant financial pressure and also extremely selective in adopting innovative technologies – which must demonstrate sufficient value for money. We expect that this decision will be observed throughout the world by other healthcare agencies,” Second Sight prez & CEO said in a press release.
Last Month, Second Sight said it won reimbursement coverage from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for procedures using its Argus II retinal prosthesis system designed to restore some vision to blind patients.
The company also announced that the American Medical Association’s current procedural terminology editorial panel approved 2 new Category III CPT codes for initial and subsequent reprogramming of its Argus II.