Thursday, November 04, 2010

Genentech Offering Secret Rebates

An article in today's NY Times reports that Genentech has begun offering secret rebates to eye doctors as an apparent inducement to get them to use more of the company's expensive drug Lucentis [ranibizumab] rather than a less costly alternative.

Doctors can earn up to tens of thousands of dollars in rebates each quarter if they use a lot of Lucentis and if their usage increases from the previous quarter, according to a confidential document outlining the program that was obtained by the New York Times. The rebates are considered a form of volume discount, and have been offered for some other drugs, but "some doctors said they had ethical concerns about the arrangement.

Genentech, which is owned by the Swiss company Roche, said in a statement, “Rebate and discount programs are a common business practice across the industry, including in the field of ophthalmology.” The company said it had such programs for other drugs and that they “help reduce the cost of our medicines for hospitals, pharmacies and doctors.”

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