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Does cost go into macular degeneration prescription decisions?

When it comes to treating the wet form of macular degeneration, there are two drugs that doctors typically consider and while the drugs are equally effective, the cost of each is dramatically different. Researchers decided to examine whether the cost difference between these two had significant bearing upon which drug a doctor prescribed. Ranibizumab was specifically developed to treat macular degeneration and comes with a $2,000 per dose price tag. Bevacizumab, on the other hand, was originally developed to treat cancer but was then later found to be an effective treatment for macular degeneration and only costs $50 per dose. Doctors who prescribe ranibizumab to Medicare patients receive a financial incentive for doing so while doctors who prescribe it to VA patients do not, so researchers wanted to examine what influence the cost of the drug along with the financial incentive had on which drug was prescribed to patients. What they found is that Medicare doctors prescribed the less costly bevacizumab 63 percent of the time and ranibizumab was prescribed 37 percent of the time. Doctors prescribing to VA patients prescribed ranibizumab 52 percent of the time although the drug that was prescribed varied across the VA medical centers around the country. Researchers believe that doctors do take into consideration the financial burden for the patient when looking at which drug to prescribe.

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