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Genentech Update: Keeping Cheaper Avastin From Patients?

Thursday, 11 Oct 2007 | 5:34 PM ET

Shortly after writing my last blog entryon Genentech's new ranking and part of the reason for its fall being blamed on the Lucentis/Avastin eye drug controversy, I came across this news item on The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog.

Today, Genentech quietly buried this letter on its website . Starting November 30th, Genentech says it's taking steps to keep doctors from using the cheaper drug Avastin instead of the more expensive Lucentis to treat age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of adult-onset blindness. The company claims the FDA has concerns about doctors or what are called "compounding pharmacies" breaking up the Avastin into much smaller doses for the eyes. And, again, it reiterates that the drug hasn't undergone gold-standard medical testing for AMD.

I'm curious to hear what the patient and/or doctor pushback might be to this move. But investors might welcome the news as it means Genentech will potentially sell more Lucentis.

And here's a link to an FDA warningletter Genentech sent to me as evidence of the agency having a problem with Avastin being repackaged. Page down to item 3. Repackaging.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com