The French Competition Authority has imposed a €444m fine on three drugmakers Novartis, Roche and Genetech for implementing abusive practices to market costly eye injection over a cheaper drug.
The fine has been imposed on the companies for pushing the sales of Lucentis to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) over Avastin, which is available at low cost to treat the same condition.
Lucentis costs €1,161 per injection, while Avastin is priced between €30 and €40 per shot, said the French regulator.
As per the regulator’s decision, Novartis has to pay €385m and Roche about €60m.
Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, markets both Avastin and Lucentis in the US, while Roche sells Avastin outside the US. Novartis started selling Lucentis in France in 2007, reported Healio.
Due to the similar results offered by Lucentis and Avastin, some eye doctors have been repackaging Avastin into syringes, which can be used to inject it into the eye, reports FiercePharma.
Avastin (bevacizumab) is a tumour-starving therapy that is designed to restrict vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein. Avastin will help restrict the blood supply that feeds the tumour, unlike chemotherapy that attacks the cancer cells.
Lucentis is a prescription medication to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), diabetic macular edema (DME), myopic choroidal neovascularization (mCNV) and macular edema following retinal vein occlusion (RVO).
In December 2016, the European Commission approved the sixth indication for Novartis’ Lucentis, making it the only treatment available for a range of choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) conditions.