Rebel NHS cluster accepts Novartis discount on Lucentis

The Avastin-vs.-Lucentis match continues. The cancer drug, used off label to fight wet age-related macular degeneration, has been siphoning off market share from the purpose-built Lucentis. But thanks to new U.K. price cuts, the latest round goes to Lucentis.

As InPharm reports, a rogue cluster of healthcare providers on the National Health Service has reversed its position on Lucentis, marketed outside the U.S. by Novartis ($NVS). The cluster had been privileging Roche's ($RHHBY) Avastin, even though it's not approved for eye use, because the drug is far cheaper than Lucentis when repackaged in the small doses necessary for AMD treatment.

First, Novartis got huffy and filed a protest. Then it offered a discount--as yet unspecified publicly--and the cluster did an about face. "We remain of the view that the policy was lawful, sensible and safe for patients," cluster Chairman Jonathan Montgomery said, as quoted by InPharm. "However ... [t]he Board agreed that taking advantage of the significant discounts now being made available by Novartis ... was in the best interests of local patients."

- read the InPharm piece

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