Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lucentis Scam Costs Medicare a Billion a Year

When the drug maker Genentech introduced a major product in 2006, it found itself in an awkward position: persuading eye doctors to start using its new more expensive drug instead of a popular cheaper version that the company already sold. Ophthalmologists had been enthusiastically using the company’s cancer drug Avastin, which cost about $50 a dose, to treat a common eye disease in the elderly, wet macular degeneration. Then Genentech introduced Lucentis, a nearly equivalent drug that cost $2,000 a dose and was approved specifically to treat the disease. Use of Lucentis took off, and it has become one of Medicare’s most expensive treatments — costing the federal government about $1 billion a year — even though several studies have concluded Lucentis has no significant advantage over its cheaper alternative..... Paid to Promote Eye Drug, and Prescribing It Widely, New York Times  
My dad suffered from wet macular degeneration and was practically blind for years but very functional in most ways. For years I took him to a retina specialist who injected his better functioning eye 3 times with Lucentis. It didn't cost us a thing but hoo boy - when the medicare statements arrived I was astounded at the over $1800 bill - for each injection. I had heard Lucentis was a sort of miracle for macular degeneration - it in effect cauterizes the area where the leakage is taking place. It doesn't reverse macular though.

So the NY Times article in yesterday's business section of the NY Times was, excuse the expression, an eye opener. But I should have known as a simple search shows a long history of exposing the story.
  1. Eye Doctors Say Their Profits Are Smaller Than Data Makes ...

    www.nytimes.com/.../eye-doctors-say-their-profits-are...
    The New York Times
    Apr 9, 2014 - Credit Michael Nagle for The New York Times ... The most expensive drug, Lucentis, which is used for macular degeneration, as well as for ...
  2. Genentech Offers Secret Rebates to Promote Lucentis ...

    www.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/.../04eye.html?...all
    The New York Times
    Nov 3, 2010 - The rebates were used to promote the drug Lucentis even though another ... outlining the program that was obtained by The New York Times.
  3. Paid to Promote Eye Drug, and Prescribing It Widely - The ...

    www.nytimes.com/.../paid-to-promote-eye-drug-and-...
    The New York Times
    20 hours ago - Lucentis, at $2,000 a dose, is similar to Avastin, at $50 a dose. Continue reading ... Credit Michael Nagle for The New York Times .... He says he is not influenced by the money he receives in compensation for his time. “People ...
  4. Doctors Grow Wary of Avastin for Eye Treatment - NYTimes ...

    prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/.../doctors-grow-wary-of-avastin-for-ey...
    Oct 4, 2011 - asked Dr. Feig. So even though he laments it, he is starting to use more of the expensive product, Lucentis, instead of the cheaper one, Avastin ...
  5. Clinical Trial Says Avastin as Effective as Lucentis for ...

    www.nytimes.com/2011/04/29/.../29eye.html
    The New York Times
    Apr 28, 2011 - New York Times ... The trial compared the effectiveness of Lucentis, a drug approved to treat one ... While this did not translate into a difference in vision at the end of one year, the time point measured in the trial, it might do so ...
  6. Italy Fines Novartis and Roche in Collusion Case - NYTimes ...

    www.nytimes.com/.../italy-fines-novartis-and-roche...
    The New York Times
    Mar 5, 2014 - Instead, they said, the companies had tried to “channel demand toward the much more expensive drug Lucentis, through an artificial distinction ...
  7. Price Difference Lucentis And Avastin - Business Insider

    www.businessinsider.com/price-difference-lucentis-and-a...
    Business Insider
    Jun 6, 2014 - Ranibizumab, more commonly known by its brand name Lucentis, .... In November 2010, The New York Times reported that Genentech was ...
  8. Medicare Data Reveals $1 Billion a Year for Costly Eye Drug

    www.bu.edu/.../medicare-data-reveals-1-billion-a-year-...
    Boston University
    Apr 11, 2014 - The Globe reports that Lucentis is more than six times more costly than an ... BU Today: The New York Times analysis of recently released ...

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