Dr. Rost provides services as a pharmaceutical marketing expert witness. For more info see: Drug Expert Witness. Dr. Peter Rost email. Copyright © 2006-2013 InSync Communication. All rights reserved. Terms of use agreement, privacy policy and the computer fraud and abuse act.


Peter Rost, M.D., is a former Pfizer Marketing Vice President providing services as a medical device and drug expert witness and pharmaceutical marketing expert. Judge Sanders: "The court agrees with defendants' view that Dr. Rost is a very adept and seasoned expert witness." He is also the author of Emergency Surgery, The Whistleblower and Killer Drug. You can reach him on rostpeter (insert symbol) Please read the terms of use agreement and privacy policy for this blog carefully.

Liquid Gold

Wet Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of legal blindness in people over 65. And it is a wonderful thing when a new drug gets approved, which can treat this terrible disease.

But what if it turns out that new drug isn't really so new, that it is really the equivalent of selling bottled water at $2 per bottle instead of paying perhaps 2 cents for hundreds of gallons of tap water?

Don't get me wrong, water is essential, and so is this new drug, developed by Genentech.

The drug is called Lucentis, and a doctor needs to inject it into the eye. Here's a description of the drug: Lucentis is a humanized antibody fragment designed to bind and inhibit Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A (VEGF-A), a protein that is believed to play a critical role in angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). These blood vessels cause the blindness.

But here's the description of another Genentech drug, called Avastin: AVASTIN® is a recombinant humanized monoclonal IgG1 antibody that binds to and inhibits the biologic activity of human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Detect the very similar language? Yep. The reason is that these are virtually the same drugs.

So what's going on here, you may wonder?

Well, Avastin is a great cancer drug. It costs about $50,000 a year when used intravenously to treat colon cancer.

But it can also be used to treat Wet Macular Degeneration. The "problem" is that very low doses are needed, so the cost for an injection into the eye is only about $20 to $100. So annual cost is "only" about $1,000.

That's not good news for Genentech.

So they "developed" Lucentis.

And whops, now the cost for an injection of the "new" drug Lucentis is expected to be from $1,500 to well over $2,000. And the annual cost will be over $10,000.

And the world is back to where it should be, with very expensive drugs.

And that's the way Genentech likes the world.


Anonymous Rosethejet said...

I was watching the news on this about a week ago and it really pissed me off. That pharma companies would screw people and taxpayers out of money is not news, but sometimes you juat have to wonder why our congress REFUSES to ever investigate these criminals.

Oh silly me, I forgot, they OWN congress. There used to be a saying that went.

Congress: The best that money can buy.

Sorry but I think it should be more in the line of:

Congress, the biggest crooks money can buy.

But not by any means lately the best, more likely, the WORST CONGRESS that is for sale.

Blogger MsMelody said...

Genentech—what would we expect from a dirty company that was birthed by stealing technology and intellectual property from a state-funded university. In my opinion, the only Pharma that surpasses Genentech in the “dirty tricks” department is Eli Lilly—a truly evil corporation parading under the guise of exemplary good corporate citizenship. What a great PR department they must fund!

Genentech developed the first rDNA technology. Their second “commercial” product—rDNA human insulin—was immediately sold to Eli Lilly—“the EXPERT in diabetes treatment.” Human insulin, which was first marketed to fill a niche—a problem-solver for those few diabetics who had allergic responses to animal insulins—rose to the pinnacle of diabetic treatment ONLY because of an exquisite marketing and sales plan.

By removing time-proven, efficacious formulations of animal insulin, the diabetic population was herded into a narrow market band. And because the most important animal insulins were the first to be withdrawn, there was no basis for comparison of efficacy and safety between the genetically-engineered products and those with a 60+ years track record. Additionally, the market was intentionally manipulated; withdrawals and limited availability of proven materials drove physicians (and their diabetic patients) to “prove” that rDNA human insulin was “more popular and more prescribed.” This also validated “business decisions” to withdraw any remaining animal insulins.

My husband is one who has survived for 50 years on animal insulin. Curiosity drove us to explore Lilly’s 50-year-insulin-award program. Given that numbers are always subject to manipulation, our study revealed that since the inception of Lilly’s 50-year program, 1,500 diabetics have been awarded recognition. Based on the current insulin-using diabetic population, at best this would show that insulin (regardless of species, i.e. animal, human) permits 1% of diabetics to survive 50 years from onset of the disease. This does NOT seem to indicate a phenomenal success.

The ADA, JDRF and the medical profession now claim that diabetics have a “normal” life. A Type 1 diabetic typically takes 6-8 shots a day, performs 10-12 finger sticks to monitor and protect himself from the dangerous insulins he is now forced to use, and has a life-span that is not only shorter than average, but one that is no lengthier now than 50 years ago. Would you consider this NORMAL?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that Big Pharma actions, as revealed by Dr. Rost in this Genentech travesty, are ALWAYS about the corporation, not the consumer.

If BigPharma can be exposed in their treatment of blindness or diabetes, it baffles me that anyone who uses BigPharma products can be unaware that their turn, too, will come when it suits a “business model.”

Anonymous thebronxzoo said...

One of these years doctor, perhaps write a bit about off-label uses of drugs, if only for me..

Doctors can continue to use Avastin for wet macular degeneration but they are in more danger of disciplinary action if an averse reaction occurs than if they now use the expensively packaged variation, Lucentis, which has a FDA approved indication for the disease.

Anonymous BothEyesOpen said...

I liken this "new" Genentech drug to the Interferon of Schering Plough. Once used for certain cancers, its protocol was somehow transferred over for possible use with HCV. (Let's pick an arbitrary 3mu 3x week and see what happens!)
Although there was no 'cure' for HCV, Schering determined to rebundle this drug at a very high price ( Ribavirin).

Imagine that. One might wonder if they employ the same marketing firms.


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