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Genentech's Avastin gambit

New distribution restrictions that Genentech Inc. plans to impose on Avastin bevacizumab will raise the cost of using the drug in the U.S. for off-label ophthalmic indications by up to 10-fold, but it will still be about four times cheaper than the company's Lucentis ranibizumab. Lucentis is approved to treat neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration, while Avastin has not been approved for any ophthalmic use.

In a move that DNA indicated is intended to steer physicians away from off-label use of Avastin and toward Lucentis, the company last week informed thousands of ophthalmologists that as of Nov. 30 it will prevent wholesalers from selling Avastin to compounding pharmacies.

Cost is the only reason to inject Avastin instead of Lucentis into a patient's eye, and compounding pharmacies have played a major role in slashing the cost of anti-angiogenesis therapy for a number of ocular indications.

The average wholesale price for a

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