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Senator blasts drug restrictions

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From Times Wire Services

Genentech Inc.'s plan to restrict the availability of Avastin, forcing doctors to prescribe a more expensive drug for eye disease, will cost taxpayers $1 billion to $3 billion a year, according to Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).

Genentech’s decision to limit access to the medicine by pharmacies that repackage drugs “is of great concern to me,” Kohl said in letters to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration. Kohl also informed the company that his staff would investigate the restrictions.

The South San Francisco, Calif., firm wants doctors to prescribe its newer drug Lucentis instead of Avastin. Avastin costs about $40 a month when used to treat macular degeneration, compared with about $2,000 for Lucentis, Kohl said.

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