SAN FRANCISCO Genentech has resolved a dispute with ophthalmologists over the use of its cancer drug Avastin, according to published reports. The issue had been over the decision by the doctors to prescribe the drug rather than one of the company’s other medications, Lucentis, which costs about 40 to 50 times more than Avastin.
The problem with the drugs stems from the fact that Lucentis is federally approved to treat macular degeneration, which occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow and Avastin, which is chemically similar to Lucentis, is not approved for that treatment.
In October, Genentech said it would stop supplying the drug to compounding pharmacies, causing an uproar from doctors who had been prescribing it, and initiating a threat of Congressional investigation on the issue. The deal now in place with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Retinal Specialists states that doctors can buy Avastin from wholesale pharmacies, and then have it shipped to compounding pharmacies, hospital formulary departments or medical offices.