Genentech Prohibits Sales of Avastin to Compounding Pharmacies
To prevent ophthalmologists from substituting wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treatment Lucentis with oncologic Avastin, Genentech is prohibiting wholesalers from distributing Avastin to compounding pharmacies that repackage the cancer agent and sell it as an AMD treatment. Genentech produces both products.
The medications are closely related and share the same mechanism of action. Both are derived from the same mouse monoclonal antibody, but Avastin (bevacizumab) is formulated for intravenous injection while Lucentis (ranibizumab) is designed for injection into the eye.
The price differential between the two products is significant. Avastin, which had sales of $564 million for the second quarter of 2007, has a wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) of $550 for 100 mg or $2,200 for 400 mg, Genentech said. Lucentis, which had sales of $209 million during the same period, has a WAC price of $1,950 for 0.5 mg.
When clinical trial data from the first registrational Lucentis study became available, physicians immediately wanted to administer the biologic to patients with AMD because it fulfilled an unmet medical need. Because the two products are so closely related, Avastin was administered to patients before Lucentis became available.
Under the new distribution policy, which takes effect Nov. 30, physicians still will be able to purchase Avastin from wholesalers, the company said.