Genentech cuts eye docs out of Avastin

Off-label scrips usually add to a drug maker's coffers. But when eye doctors prescribe the cancer remedy Avastin for macular degeneration, they're cannibalizing Genentech's eye drug Lucentis. So Genentech has moved to block Avastin sales to the outlets eye docs use most often--compounding pharmacies that split up large vials of Avastin into many small doses for ophthalmic use.

The FDA has said it's worried that pharmacists might introduce germs into Avastin when repackaging it. But something tells us that's not the only reason behind the change. Avastin, you see, costs some $40 for eye use--and it's considered nearly as effective as Lucentis, which costs $2,000. If eye doctors didn't use Avastin, Genentech probably would see its Lucentis sales double to $800 million or $900 million. That's not chump change.

- check out the article from the San Francisco Chronicle