Second Sight Medical Products Inc. on Thursday announced that Britain’s National Health Service will subsidize implantations of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System in 10 patients suffering from blindness.
The non-departmental NHS, which is funded through tax-payer money, provides health care to citizens based on need and not ability to pay.
The Argus II initiative will be funded by NHS’ Commissioning through Evaluation program, which was designed to support and collect data from treatments that show potential for the future. France has a similar program that also reimburses for the Argus II.
Developed and manufactured by Second Sight, the Argus II, also known as the “bionic eye,” is a system that uses an implant and camera mounted on a pair of eyeglasses to restore limited vision to patients with retinitis pigmentosa – an eye disease in which the back wall of the retina is damaged causing blindness.
The selected group of patients will be able to receive the implant at one of two English hospitals. Both hospitals and Sylmar-based Second Sight will provide follow up and rehabilitation.
“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,” Will McGuire, Second Sight’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We expect that this decision will be observed throughout the world by other health care agencies.”
The procedure costs approximately €85,000, or more than $88,600 per implant, according to the Telegraph newspaper in London.
Second Sight (EYES) shares closed up 11 cents or 5.7 percent to $2.05 on the Nasdaq.