Genre: News report
This 2.5 minute clip from the BBC News at One (2nd April 2015) follows a report in the British Medical Journal in which pharmaceutical company Novartis was accused of undermining clinical trials into the use of Avastin, a rival to their own more expensive drug Lucentis in the treatment of eye condition Wet AMD.
The story encapsulates some of the tensions prevalent in development of medicines. Avastin is already licensed for use in treatment of some cancers, but not for age-related macular degeneration. Despite this, in times of constrained budget, many doctors are preferring to offer Avastin to patients with AMD, in preference over the official drug Lucentis. In so doing they are said to be advocating “off-label” usage and could, in theory, be held accountable if something were to go wrong.
To resolve this conundrum, a properly conducted clinical trial of Avastin as an alternative to Lucentis needs to be conducted. It is at this point that the BMJ accuses Novartis, the manufacturer of the more expensive drug, of wilfully disrupting clinical trials that may have validated the use of Avastin for wet AMD.