Government of Alberta reimburses first medication to improve vision and restore quality of life

Alberta residents with neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss over the age of 50, have received a dose of good news with the decision by Alberta Health and Wellness to reimburse the innovative treatment Lucentis* (ranibizumab) on the Alberta Blue Cross insurance plan.

The approval of funding for Lucentis* by the Government of Alberta gives real hope for vision improvement and quality of life for these patients, for whom the diagnosis of wet AMD could previously have meant severe central vision loss and possibly even blindness in a matter of weeks to months.

The decision to reimburse Lucentis* is testament to the important clinical benefits of this treatment. Lucentis* was approved for use in Canada in June 2007 and in March 2008 the Common Drug Review (CDR), Canada's national drug review process, recommended that it be listed by provincial drug plans. Alberta now joins public drug plans in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador in reimbursing Lucentis*.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. continues to work with officials in the remaining provinces to ensure all Canadians with wet AMD who rely on provincial drug plans will equally have access to Lucentis*.

Lucentis* sets a new treatment standard for people suffering from the wet form of AMD. While earlier therapies have been able to slow the progression of vision loss, Lucentis* offers patients - for the first time - a real opportunity for statistically and clinically significant visual improvement with a proven therapy. In clinical trials, up to 40% of Lucentis*-treated patients achieved visual acuity of 20/40 or better, which is greater than the level of vision required to drive. Results from two pivotal trials show that with Lucentis*, vision is preserved in more than 90% of patients treated and even more impressive, vision was actually improved in 70% of patients.

Lucentis* is the first and only approved treatment clinically proven to offer wet AMD patients significant vision gains. Designed specifically for use in the eye and administered by injection into the eye, Lucentis* helps to stabilize or improve patients' vision which, in turn, can increase their independence and ability to perform activities requiring central vision such as seeing faces, reading and driving.

Source:

NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CANADA INC.

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