Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Choice of eye drug comes with possible conflict for MDs

From the Vancouver Sun:
British Columbia's plan to fund two new drugs gives doctors more choices in treating age-related macular degeneration, but it comes with a potential conflict of interest.

Last week, the government started covering Lucentis and Avastin, two chemically similar drugs that stop the damage done by age-related macular degeneration.

The disease attacks the retina and affects an estimated 3,500 British Columbians annually. It is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50.

Under the government's new plan, retinal specialists will be reimbursed $530 for each treatment of either drug and the associated costs of the drug program, including a $132 injection fee, travel, administration and storage.

While the reimbursement rates for the two drugs are the same, their costs are very different.

Doctors buy Lucentis at a cost of $1,575 per vial, which is split into four treatments. Avastin costs from $300 to $375 per vial and can be split into 20 treatments.

So, doctors purchasing and prescribing Avastin will put out $300 to $375 per vial, but could be paid as much as $10,600. The potential payout is less attractive for Lucentis, with its higher price tag. ...more

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