1. real talk

    A Costly Medicare Fail

    Roche's colon-cancer drug Avastin featured in a Cambridge, Massachusetts pharmacy Wednesday, February 1st. Roche Holding AG's second-half profit fell 19 percent, but Roche said full-year profit fell less than analysts expected helped by demand for the colon-cancer drug Avastin. Photographer: J.B. Reed/Bloomberg News.

    J.B. Reed, Bloomberg News / Getty Images

    Crusading New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera directs his trademark righteous indignation today at a cancer drug called Avastin. Initially heralded as a promising breakthrough in cancer treatment, the drug has since proven entirely ineffective in treating breast cancer. And yet insurers, including Medicare, have ignored the overwhelming science and continued to pay for breast-cancer patients to use it. The reason, Nocera says, is that no company wants to be cast as “heartless.” But the drug, which costs $90,000 a year, is a prime example of why health-care costs remain high. “If we’re not willing to say no to a drug like Avastin, then what drug will we say no to?”

    Read it at the New York Times