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France Fines 3 Laboratories For Abusive Practices

 |  September 9, 2020

The Autorité de la concurrence has imposed fines worth a total of €444 million (US$523.97 million) on three pharmaceutical companies, Novartis, Roche, and Genentech, for abusive practices designed to sustain the sales of Lucentis for AMD treatment to the detriment of Avastin, reported the regulator in a press release.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the main cause of low vision for people over 50 in industrialized countries. It causes severe impairment of central vision, which is particularly present in the form of dark spots perceived by the patient in the middle of its vision.

The Genentech laboratory has developed a drug, Lucentis, to treat AMD. It also developed another medicine, an anti-cancer drug, Avastin. Doctors realised that Avastin had positive effects for patients with AMD, which led to a development of its use, without marketing authorization (MA), to treat this disease, while Avastin cost 30 times cheaper than Lucentis.

Following the development of the off-label use of Avastin in the treatment of AMD, public authorities in many countries have initiated research projects aimed at testing the efficacy and possible side effects associated with the prescription of Avastin for AMD treatment.

It is in this context that the Genentech, Novartis, and Roche laboratories have implemented a set of behaviors (abuse of collective dominant position) aimed at preserving the position and the price of Lucentis, by curbing the off-label use of the anticancer drug Avastin.