Congress Overrides Bush Veto on Medicare Bill, Cell Therapeutics’ Zevalin Reimbursement Survives

Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics won a victory yesterday in the standoff between Congress and President Bush over a new Medicare bill. Congress voted to overrule Bush’s veto, which would have killed a provision that extended the current reimbursement rate for doctors who prescribe Zevalin, the company’s sole marketed product for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

As we wrote about last week when the bill first went to the President’s desk, the bill will allow doctors who prescribe Zevalin over an 18-month period to continue getting paid $21,000 per patient for the treatment, instead of the $15,000 that had been proposed by Medicare.

The product has never become a big seller, generating just $3.8 million in first-quarter sales, the company has said. Investors don’t seem to care whether Cell Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CTIC) wins or loses a reimbursement battle. The stock hit a 52-week low yesterday of 40 cents, down a staggering 92 percent from its high point in the last year.

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