Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tarceva in the news

Pricing to rise slightly.

The news that DNA is raising Tarceva pricing is interesting given that about a month ago, Genentech (DNA) announced a cap on per patient costs for Avastin, especially since both medicines are anti-angiogenic solid tumor fighters (though targeting different genes.)

There's probably 2 reasons for the difference:

1) Avastin is a monoclonal antibody, and much more expensive to produce.
2) Avastin is wholly owned by DNA, while Tarceva is partnered with OSI. OSI probably doesn't need to send the same social message that DNA does, and therefore is not as interested in capping costs. Or, OSI wants to raise prices to increase Tarceva's profile within DNA (and hence profitability).

(It's pretty clear that DNA is pushing Avastin harder than Tarceva. I'll illustrate this in a future post. Tarceva may be the better product in the long run, strictly due to patient compliance costs in consuming a small molecule (pill) versus weekly injections (Avastin.)

It's still hard to accept why OSI and DNA are both partners and competitors in this space and wonder how long this will last - with either DNA buying OSI, OSI buying out of the DNA agreement.

OSI has small molecules in development that could/would supplant Avastin, but they're years away

Somewhat related: NICE (UK health cost/benefit agency) just determined that Tarceva is not cost effective, and is therefore not available in England as part of NHS (public) medical care. Tarceva is, however, covered by the NHS in Scotland.

The decision isn't final, though.

This brings up a deep moral question. I guess I shouldn't be shocked that Britain has coldly run the numbers on Tarceva, and are willing (and able) to tell people who could benefit from Tarceva that the government doesn't find their additional time on this Earth, or improved quality of life to be a good investment.

Story: NICE gives thumbs down to Tarceva

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