Efforts to steer doctors away from off-label use of cancer drug Avastin in favor of the pricier Lucentis for treating sight issues have gotten Swiss drugmakers Roche and Novartis fined by the anticompetition authority in Italy, where prosecutors are also taking a look, and now French regulators say they are in the midst of a probe of their own.
After their antitrust-fighting colleagues levied $251 million in fines against Swiss drugmakers Roche and Novartis on allegations that they colluded to protect sales of their eye drug, Italian prosecutors are now investigating possible market manipulation and fraud, according to Reuters.
Doctors have been prescribing Roche's cancer drug Avastin off-label to treat some of the same vision problems as its eye drug, Lucentis. Now, Italy's antitrust authority has fined Roche and marketing partner Novartis, accusing them of colluding to push doctors toward the pricier option--claims the pair denies.
Should Avastin really join the small set of tools in the brain-cancer toolbox? With studies offering conflicting results, Roche and some outside researchers may share data to answer that question.
The Cranbury, NJ-based biotech says they will focus on knockoffs of Humira, Rituxan, Avastin, Herceptin and Erbitux.
In April, the FDA said it had nailed one of the key players bringing counterfeit Avastin into the U.S. and wanted to make an example of him with federal jail time. But a judge in Montana has sentenced him to house arrest instead.
Roche nabbed a first-line approval for Avastin in brain cancer. Japanese regulators cleared the drug to treat aggressive brain tumors, including newly diagnosed glioblastoma, as monotherapy and in combination with radiation and chemo.
Here's a roundup of news on approved drugs from this year's American Society of Clinical Oncology conference, comprising highlights from FierceBiotech 's weekend coverage as well as recent releases.
Roche took two steps forward and one step back on the Avastin front today, as investigators laid out a clear advantage in adding the therapy to chemo for cervical cancer while finding no survival advantage when adding it to first-line treatment of an aggressive form of brain cancer.
The FDA and U.S. law enforcement are continuing their crackdown on Internet sales of illegally imported drugs, even enlisting the help of Interpol and police in London and Germany to track and arrest two Pakistani men accused of selling controlled substances online.