Put a Genentech executive and a bunch of angry ophthalmologists in the same room, and what do you get? Fireworks. At a conference over the weekend, the company's president of product development, Susan Desmond-Hellman, defended its decision to stop selling Avastin to compounding pharmacies, which repackage the drug for use against macular degeneration.
Desmond-Hellman blamed the move on the FDA, saying, "[w]e had no choice." The FDA's worries about repackaging the cancer med could "put our entire manufacturing operation at risk." That's funny, the eye docs responded. The FDA told us different.
Genentech believes eye docs will still be able to get Avastin for their WMD patients. And Desmond-Hellman vigorously denied that the move was meant to steer patients toward the company's designated WMD drug Lucentis, which runs $2,000 a dose compared with $40 for Avastin.
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