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According to recent scientific studies, Lucentis and Avastin are two identical medicines in the treatment of certain pathologies of the retina. In Italian hospitals, however, only the most expensive is prescribed. George Mottola

In combating macular degeneration of the eye, a serious dysfunction of the retina that affects over three million people in Italy, some recent scientific studies have shown that Lucentis and Avastin are two identical drugs. Or almost: Lucentis, produced by Novartis, costs 50 times more than Avastin, produced by Roche: about 1,000 euros per vial against 20 euros.

While in the rest of Europe most ophthalmologists have been choosing Avastin for their patients for some years, which is much cheaper, only Lucentis is prescribed in Italian public hospitals and the cost of each vial is fully reimbursed by the national health system.

If instead of Lucentis the Italian ophthalmologists had prescribed Avastin, as their European colleagues do, according to the estimate made by the Italian Ophthalmological Society, the State would have saved about 400 million euros. But the cheapest drug in Italy cannot be administered because the Italian Medicines Agency has classified the medicine as off-label, outside the indications, advising against its use because it is considered risky. The ophthalmologist who chooses to administer it to one of his patients therefore assumes responsibility for it.

Yet the National Eye Institute of the US National Institute of Health

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