The Wall Street Journal
reports that Medicare could save $500 million a year by switching from one type of eye medicine to another, both made by Genentech, "according to a draft study by federal officials and a University of Miami eye doctor. The study shows that the cheaper drug, Avastin, is already used in about 65% of Medicare patients with wet age-related macular degeneration and accounts for nearly 60% of their eye injections, compared with about 40% for a more expensive drug called Lucentis. However, Medicare paid $537 million for Lucentis in 2008 and only $20 million for Avastin, according to the unpublished study, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal." Wet macular degeneration is the "leading cause of irreversible blindness among older people" (Mundy, 6/17).