Genentech makes an eye drug called Lucentis. It’s expensive: $2000/month. They also make a cancer drug called Avastin. It’s inexpensive: $40/month.
The two drugs are chemically very similar. So similar, in fact, that compounding pharmacies are repackaging Avastin and doctors are prescribing it for the eye problem.
Genentech doesn’t like this. They want the money for Lucentis. So, they’re stopping shipment of Avastin to all the pharmacies and sending it only to hospital pharmacies or directly to doctors. Furthermore, they’re refusing participate in the NIH study to confirm or reject the similar usefulness of the two drugs, and not even providing drugs at cost to the study as is customary.
Result? $1-$3 billion more a year of taxpayer money into Medicare, because almost all the patients involved are over 65. I think it’s great how the drug companies selflessly do research and development to keep us all healt… yeah.
Wall St. Journal article below.