The High Cost of Healing

The following is from the Washington Post:

The two drugs have been declared equivalently miraculous. Tested side by side in six major trials, both prevent blindness in a common old-age affliction. Biologically, they are cousins. They’re even made by the same company.

But one holds a clear price advantage.

 

Avastin costs about $50 per injection.

Lucentis costs about $2,000 per injection.

Doctors choose the more expensive drug more than half a million times every year, a choice that costs the Medicare program, the largest single customer, an extra $1 billion or more annually.

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Many ophthalmologists, however, are skeptical that Lucentis provides any added value over the cheaper alternative.

“Lucentis is Avastin — it’s the same damn molecule with a few cosmetic changes,” said J. Gregory Rosenthal, a Toledo ophthalmologist who, outraged by the price, co-founded a group called Physicians for Clinical Responsibility to protest its use. “Yet Americans are paying a billion dollars every year for no good reason — unless you count making Genentech rich.”

John Thompson, a Baltimore ophthalmologist who is president of the American Society of Retinal Specialists, noted that most doctors use Avastin and that even more would do so if the company sought FDA approval for using it in eyes and packaged it in appropriate doses.

“If Genentech decided to get FDA approval and make Avastin available in small quantities for the eye,” he said, “the American Society of Retinal Specialists would applaud.”

For more info:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/an-effective-eye-drug-is-available-for-50-but-many-doctors-choose-a-2000-alternative/2013/12/07/1a96628e-55e7-11e3-8304-caf30787c0a9_story.html

 

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