Article Date: 11/1/2007

United We Stand
UPFRONT

United We Stand

JASON S. SLAKTER, MD

Most of us have questioned at times whether membership in professional societies carries with it any significant benefit beyond having something to write on our curriculum vitae and a membership plaque to put on our office wall. I have thoroughly enjoyed the educational and social aspects of the various subspecialty society meetings. The conferences give us an opportunity to share ideas, gain new knowledge, and interact with colleagues in an enjoyable atmosphere. But recent events have made clear the true value of membership in collective organizations that have the goal of promoting our particular subspecialty.

In the middle of October, Genentech made a decision to suspend direct sales of bevacizumab (Avastin) to US compounding pharmacies. Within a week, letters were sent to many of our patients directly from Genentech, outlining the "approved nature" of ranibizumab (Lucentis) and the "off-label use" of bevacizumab and its potential systemic complications. This was met with shock, disbelief, and anger by all of us. As individual doctors sitting in our offices, what could we do? Some of us contacted our Genentech representatives, others sought immediate solutions to ensure the continued availability of bevacizumab for our patients, and still others took advantage of opportunities to contact lawmakers and others in positions of power in government to see what could be done about this dramatic turn of events. As individuals, it is unlikely that we would have been able to accomplish much in a short period of time.

SEEING RESULTS

However, the power of the organized societies, (the Macula Society, the Retina Society, the American Society of Retinal Specialists [ASRS], and the American Academy of Ophthalmology [AAO]), generated swift and decisive results. The ASRS initiated a member-wide survey to determine support for a response and potential sanctions against Genentech. Legislative and regulatory contacts were made to begin an investigation into the problem, and most importantly the AAO and ASRS leadership arranged a sit-down with Genentech management. As a result of these efforts, Genentech announced a 1-month moratorium on its embargo and began steps that will hopefully result in movement in a positive direction. Among the agreements is to seek advance comment from the AAO and ASRS on any direct-to-patient or physician communications on bevacizumab vs ranibizumab and further explore the role that Genentech can play in providing anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy. Whether these efforts will lead to an improvement in the situation has yet to be determined, but the actions of the organized societies had clear results.

I am proud to be a member of these societies, and I would encourage those of you who question the value of "organized medicine" in promoting the wellbeing of our practices and patients to continue active support for these organizations. On behalf of the retinal community, I would like to express my appreciation and thanks to the leadership of these groups for the fine job they have done to date and for their continued support for us and our patients.

Retinal PHYSICIAN®
Editorial Advisory and Review Board
Jason S. Slakter, MD . Editor-in-Chief

New York, NY. jslakter@aol.com
(212) 861-9797

Lloyd P. Aiello, MD, PhD, Boston, MA
Fareed Ali, MD, FRCS(C) Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Riva Lee Asbell, Philadelphia, PA
Abdhish R. Bhavsar, MD, Minneapolis, MN
David Brown, MD, Houston, TX
Stanley Chang, MD, New York, NY
Emily Y. Chew, MD, Bethesda, MD
Kevin Corcoran, COE, CPC, FNAO San Bernardino, CA
Donald J. D'Amico, MD, New York, NY
Dean Eliott, MD, Los Angeles, CA
Sharon Fekrat, MD, Durham, NC
Frederick L. Ferris, MD, Bethesda, MD
Donald C. Fletcher, MD, San Francisco, CA
Morton F. Goldberg, MD, FACS, Baltimore, MD
Julia A. Haller, MD, Baltimore, MD
Jeffrey Heier, MD, Boston, MA
Allen C. Ho, MD, Philadelphia, PA
Lee M. Jampol, MD, Chicago, IL
Mark W. Johnson, MD, Ann Arbor, MI
Eddie F. Kadrmas, MD, PhD, Plymouth, MA
Peter K. Kaiser, MD, Cleveland, OH
Martin A. Mainster, PhD, MD, FRCOphth Kansas City, KS
William F. Mieler, MD, Chicago, IL
Joan W. Miller, MD, Boston, MA
Dennis A. Orlock, CRA, New York, NY
Kirk H. Packo, MD, Chicago, IL
Carmen A. Puliafito, MD, MBA, Miami, FL
Carl D. Regillo, MD, FACS, Philadelphia, PA
Richard Rosen, MD, New York, NY
Philip J. Rosenfeld, MD, PhD, Miami, FL
Reginald J. Sanders, MD, Washington, DC
Steven D. Schwartz, MD, Los Angeles, CA
Ingrid U. Scott, MD, MPH, Hershey, PA
Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM, Boston, MA
Stephen C. Sheppard, Springfield, MO
Jerry A. Shields, MD, Philadelphia, PA
Lawrence J. Singerman, MD, Cleveland, OH
Richard F. Spaide, MD, New York, NY
Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, Nashville, TN
Michael T. Trese, MD, Royal Oak, MI
George A. Williams, MD, Royal Oak, MI
Lawrence A. Yannuzzi, MD, New York, NY


Retinal Physician, Issue: November 2007