ANCHOR LEAD: NEW THERAPIES ARE GREAT BUT EXPENSIVE, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Avastin, a drug that helps prevent new blood vessels from forming to supply tumors, has just been approved by the FDA for use in people with breast cancer. But Ben Park, a breast cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, says the news isn’t all good.
PARK: The bigger concern with Avastin and all these biologic drugs, this is a monoclonal antibody, is the cost, and who’s going to pay for this? Currently these monoclonal antibody therapies are calculated to be about 40-50,000 dollars a year, so we don’t really know as a society who is going to pay for this. If you think about a 20% coinsurance copay for a patient, that’s a huge amount of cost to bear so these are all going to be very very important questions that as of yet don’t have good answers. :27
The cost of Avastin and its sister drug, Lucentis, has been a source of vociferous criticism against Genentech, which makes both. Genentech has been accused of price gouging as both these drugs are used increasingly for an array of cancers and other conditions. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.