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Feb16
Greed or Economics? -- You Be The Judge
People are fuming over a report that appeared in yesterday's New York Times focusing on Genentech's plans to charge $100,000 a year for its cancer medication Avastin.  That's right folks, $100,000 a year.  Avastin has been shown to extend life by a few months when combined with already approved cancer therapies.

According to the Times "even some patients with insurance are thinking hard before agreeing to treatment . . . because out-of-pocket co-payments for the drug could easily run $10,000 to $20,000 a year."

Genentech has moved away from the usual argument pharma has used to defend its pricing of medications.  Normally companies assert that the cost of developing and producing new medications is accounted for in the price of the medication.  Genentech is using a different argument, setting Avastin's price on "the value of innovation and the value of new therapies." 

In Genentech's defense, it has a number of programs set up to help patients afford medications and has contributed $21 million to charities that help people cover their insurance payments. (Genentech made $6 billion last year.)  However, I don't think people won't remember Genentech's charitable contributions in light of its pricing policies.

Clearly, as Genentech is arguing, society is going to have to make a decision about the value versus the cost of these medications.  It's distasteful, but the Genentech issue is forcing people to decide how much a life is worth.  Other countries with national health care systems have already been grappling with these issues.  Some have calculated the cost-benefit ratio of a specific medication or procedure based on their determination of the value of a year (or months) of good health.

Following are some medical/health-related blogs that are covering the issue of Genentech's pricing of Avastin in detail.

-Pharma Marketing Blog
-Kevin, M.D. - Medical Weblog
-PharmaGossip

Any comments you have re: this issue are appreciated and welcome.

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