The Washington Post on Medicare eye drugs

by Walter Olson on December 16, 2013

Last week the Washington Post flayed doctors who participate in the Medicare program, along with the pharmaceutical company Genentech, because they often prescribe the $2,000-a-dose (and fully FDA-approved) eye drug Lucentis in preference to Avastin, a biologically related compound also made by Genentech that seems to work equally well against “wet” age-related macular degeneration and can be obtained off-label from compounders for only $50 an injection (albeit with some additional risks and hassles). Taxpayers have shelled out billions of dollars, the Post complains with some justice, because many docs (currently close to half) choose FDA-approved in preference to off-label treatments.

Great investigation, guys. Now that you’ve accused doctors of being socially irresponsible and greedy for not going off-label to prescribe, could you investigate who exactly has been demonizing off-label prescribing as a dangerous, unregulated practice that the FDA needs to crack down on? What would happen if you found that that it was some of the Post’s own favorite sources and advocacy groups?

{ 7 comments }

1 Larry Sheldon 12.16.13 at 7:13 am

Does this say that the big-government libs are saying that the doctors should disregard big-government pronouncements?

2 Mannie 12.16.13 at 10:03 am

How much more risk of a ruinous malpractice suit is there for prescribing off label “Rogue Drugs.” You can almost hear the malpractice lawyer denouncing this “reckless practice only intended to save the evil insurance companies some money.”

3 Mike 12.16.13 at 10:39 am

See, this is why we need JournoList. These creatures need a forum where they can dialogue and get their stories straight before publication.

4 DEM 12.16.13 at 11:33 am

The Post wants a government win-win here, doesn’t it? I.e., save money by prescribing Avastin off-label, then have the DOJ sue Genetech into oblivion for off-label marketing, resulting (as awlays) in a massive settlement benefitting federal coffers. Heads the government wins, tails Genetech loses.

5 Max Kennerly 12.17.13 at 12:48 am

It’s off-label because “the company has refused encouragement from the FDA to seek official approval for using it to treat eye ailments.”

6 DensityDuck 12.17.13 at 2:41 am

“It’s off-label because “the company has refused encouragement from the FDA to seek official approval for using it to treat eye ailments.” ”

Hardly surprising. Remember colchicine? (Look it up if you don’t.)

7 HFB 12.22.13 at 5:12 pm

It’s off-label because “the company has refused encouragement from the FDA to seek official approval for using it to treat eye ailments.”

LOL

I.E. “Please pay us to get this approved…through us….by us…whatever. Just pay a bunch of money to someone (don’t forget us!) to get this through.” Sheesh! Won’t someone think of the children?!?!?

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