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UK cost agency recommends Bayer, Regeneron eye drug

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's healthcare cost watchdog NICE is recommending a new eye drug from Bayer and Regeneron, after a price discount was offered for its use on the state health service.

The draft decision by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) means Eylea will compete in Britain with Novartis's established product Lucentis as a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Novartis already has a separate discount scheme in place for Lucentis. The size of the discounts offered on both drugs is commercially confidential.

Eylea and Lucentis are both injected into the eye to counter wet AMD, which affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of the eye.

NICE decides if drugs should be paid for on the state health service and its decisions are followed closely both by drug companies and health authorities in other countries. NICE said on Friday it expected to publish final guidance on Eylea in August 2013.

Germany's Bayer and U.S.-based Regeneron are collaborating on Eylea, with Regeneron maintaining exclusive rights in the United States and Bayer - which licensed the drug from its partner - marketing it elsewhere.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)