September 09, 2020
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Novartis, Roche/Genentech face major fines from French regulatory authority

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Novartis and Roche/Genentech are facing a combined 444 million euros in fines from the French Competition Authority for “abusive practices” intended to sustain sales of an expensive product, according to a press release.

Genentech markets both Avastin and Lucentis in the U.S., while Roche markets Avastin and Novartis markets Lucentis outside the U.S. Novartis began marketing Lucentis in France in 2007 for treatment of age-related macular degeneration, at which time each injection cost 1,161 euros. Avastin is 30 times cheaper, the release said.

Novartis is being fined 385,103,250 euros, while Roche/Genentech is being fined 59,748,726 euros.

“Novartis sought ways in which to discredit the decisions taken by some ophthalmologists who, exercising their freedom to prescribe, prescribed Avastin off-label to treat patients in ophthalmology. It has been fined for disparaging practice, including unjustifiably exaggerating the risks associated with the 'off-label' use of Avastin, designed as a cancer treatment, to treat AMD, and, more generally, its use in ophthalmology, compared to the safe and well-tolerated use of Lucentis for the same purposes,” the Authority said in the release.

The Authority considered the companies together as a “single elective entity,” in that “the use of Avastin rather than Lucentis would entail a significant loss of income for each of the three laboratories.”