WaPo takes down Lucentis

Share this article:

The Washington Post examines how Lucentis, despite costing around $2,000, is not being edged out of the wet-AMD market by cheaper—as in $50—cancer drug Avastin. The newspaper says it comes down to marketing, physician incentive, and Genentech's antipathy toward seeking a wet-AMD indication for Avastin.

The WaPo says payments are part of what appeals to physicians, because Medicare reimburses doctors based on a medication's average price, plus 6%. This essentially front-loads the prescription-writing scenario, which continues to tilt in this direction because Medicare can't push back, as cheaper Avastin is not indicated to treat this condition.

Although off-label use is not unheard of in the industry, the Washington Post reports Avastin's packaging discourages ophthalmologists from using the cheaper medication which is intended for cancer patients, who require large doses. Whittling these prepackaged doses down to ophthalmologist-friendly sizes would require a third party opening the medication, which the WaPo notes can up the contamination risk. WaPo also notes that Genentech “reminded doctors that if the repackaging firms cutting Avastin into smaller doses were careless, infection could be introduced.”

WaPo notes that although Genentech says it spent $1.4 billion to develop Lucentis, it has sold $2.1 billion in the US and several billion more abroad through its partner Novartis, and reports that some scientists think Lucentis may in fact be cheaper to produce than Avastin.

Share this article:
close

Next Article in Business Briefs

Email Newsletters

More in Business Briefs

Illumina inks deal with J&J, AstraZeneca, Sanofi

The goal is to develop companion diagnostics to match patients with cancer treatments.

Abbott deal highlights inversion inaction

Political furor over the recent spate of tax inversions is having little influence on how the government chooses its partners.

Allergan reported to seek out Salix deal

The Wall Street Journal says the deal would add "another layer of intrigue" to the Allergan-Valeant hostilities.