Bascom Palmer Rejects Secret Rebates for Eye Drug Use
On Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010, Andrew Pollack of the New York Times wrote an article describing a secret rebate program between the pharmaceutical company Genentech and select eye doctors throughout the country. In this program, eye doctors are offered a financial kick-back if they increase their use of an expensive eye drug known as Lucentis to treat patients who have the wet form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lucentis was approved by the FDA in 2006 to treat this blinding disease. Some patients with this condition require repeated injections of this drug for many years at a cost of approximately $2,000 per injection. The ophthalmologists at the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute have not participated in this program and will never accept any type of financial kick-back designed to influence patient care.
In 2005, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute pioneered the use of Avastin (also manufactured by Genentech) as a lower cost alternative to Lucentis. Originally approved by the FDA to treat colorectal cancer, Avastin is now used off-label to treat wet AMD and has been shown to generate the same or better results as Lucentis. Consequently, the use of Avastin has spread globally preventing blindness worldwide. In contrast to the cost of Lucentis, the cost of each Avastin injection is only $50 which represents a savings of $1,950 per injection. Since 2006, in the U.S. alone, the use of Avastin has restored the vision of millions while saving Medicare more than $2 billion.
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is committed to providing its patients the best possible, most cost-effective, advanced eye care. When treating eye disease, the decision to select one treatment therapy over another rests with the physician and the patient who together consider the patient’s medical condition, financial resources and medical insurance. Bascom Palmer will continue to use both Avastin and Lucentis appropriately in the care of its AMD patients, and will never be influenced to administer any treatment based upon a financial kick-back, financial incentive or rebate from Genentech or any other proprietary organization.