Novartis is fighting against the use of a low-cost drug option, which rival its Lucentis eye medication, in various portions of Britain, reported Reuters.
Lucentis brings in annualized sales worth around $2bn and is an age-related mascular degeneration (AMD) medication that is recommended by the National institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in Britain, according to the article. However, some health authorities in Britain are utilizing Roches’ Avastin cancer medication as a less-costly alternative — despite the fact that the drug is not actually licensed to treat eye conditions.
According to the article, the miniscule amount of Avastin required to be injected into an eye means that the drug costs less than 10% of the $1,200 required for Lucentis to be injected into an eye.
But Novartis isn’t content to sit still and do nothing about the situation. According to the article, the Swiss drug manufacturer wants to see a judicial review mull over the strategy being followed in Portsmouth, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Hampshire. The strategy, at it turns out, involves paying for Avastin via the British National Health Service. In fact, the article cited Novartis as saying in a statement that it is fully against any policy that, by favoring an unlicensed drug for the treatment of AMD, jeopardizes the health of patients. The company stressed that the policy used by some local authorities in Britain also violates the same “regulatory process” put in place to safeguard patients.
Avastin, though not currently licensed to treat eye conditions, has the same medicinal impact as does Lucentis and is often prescribed both in Britain and the United States, according to the article. Since physicians are legally entitled to treat their patients as they deem best, they are allowed to give patients Avastin to combat AMD.
According to the article, a U.S. clinical trial that wrapped up in 2011 found that Avastin and Lucentis worked pretty much equally well in treating AMD-related vision complications. However, there were more negative side effects associated with using Avastin than in using Lucentis.
While Novartis argued that the adverse side effects associated with Avastin means that it should not be used to treat patients with eye conditions, industry critics said in the article that the Swiss company doesn’t have the right to police British health authorities in this regard.