Eye doctors fighting Genentech decision

The California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons has issued a call for South San Francisco’s Genentech Inc. (DNA) to reverse its decision to halt sales of its drug Avastin to compounding pharmacies effective November 30, 2007.

The group is asking the California Medical Association and possibly the American Medical Association to take a stand on the issue as well.

Opthalmologists have been using Avastin, a drug currently only approved for cancer, to treat age-related macular degeneration, a common eye disease. Because only a small portion of a standard dose is needed for eye treatment, eye doctors have generally purchased the drug from compounding pharmacies, which repackage it in smaller doses.

Genentech, however, also sells a similar but much more expensive drug, Lucentis, which according to information provided by the physicians sells for approximately $2,000 a dose versus approximately $40 a dose for Avastin.

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