May 13, 2014
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Anti-VEGFs worth the cost the government pays, SFO president says

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PARIS — The current price of anti-VEGFs is not too high, considering the benefits they provide, according to Jean-François Korobelnik, MD, president of the French Society of Ophthalmology.

Jean-François Korobelnik

“The media have put a lot of emphasis on the cost of anti-VEGFs. But we are investing on expensive treatments also for cancer to prolong life of a few months, and new promising molecules for hepatitis C are going to cost €60,000 for 3 months of therapy,” he said.

The French Ministry of Health, which provides full reimbursement for approved anti-VEGF therapies, spent in 2013 €429 million for Lucentis (ranibizumab, Genentech/Novartis) — the No. 1 investment for drug coverage last year — and €12 million in 3 months for Eylea (aflibercept, Regeneron/Bayer). This financial burden is expected to grow with increasing demand for treatment in future years.

“The government might be able to negotiate with manufacturers a lower price for Lucentis after 7 to 8 years of utilization, with Eylea getting into the scene and following approval of Lucentis for more indications,” Korobelnik said. “Ideally, there should be a European price or even a world price.”

He did not express favor of government provisions that may allow the off-label use and reimbursement of Avastin (bevacizumab, Genentech/Roche). The additional costs related to compounding, storage, traceability and treatment of epidemic infections due to contamination might, in fact, make the final price less remarkable, he said.

Disclosure: Korobelnik is a consultant to BayerNovartis and Roche.