- Catholic-based healthcare system Ascension Health, comprised of 130 acute-care hospitals, is banning Genentech sales reps from its campus.
- Genentech sent a memo to Ascension and other hospital systems that effective October 1, Avastin (bevacizumab), Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Rituxan (rituximab) will only be available through six specialty distributors.
- In response, Ascension is banning Genentech reps as the policy change is expected to cost Ascension an additional $500,000 in supply-chain costs.
Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan are critical elements of many cancer-treatment strategies. So in practice, Ascension Health will need to continue to buy these medications from Genentech. The challenge is that by having to use authorized specialty dealers, instead of going through wholesale distributors, the costs will be significantly higher.
Genentech has made the argument that by using specialty dealer-distributors, it is easier to track where their drugs are going. The Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) sent a letter to Genetech making the point that the latest policy change will lead to treatment delays and have a negative impact on patients. Despite impassioned arguments against Genentech's decision, the company stands by its decision and will be adding three more cancer drugs -- Gazyva (obinutuzumab), Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab) and Perjeta (pertuzumab) -- to the specialty distribution list.