Manitoba government: AMD drug Lucentis will be funded through centralized vision program

Manitobans with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) received a dose of good news. The Manitoba government announced that Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) will soon be funded through a centralized vision program, effective June 1, 2010. The announcement is an important development that demonstrates the government's commitment to ensuring Manitoba residents diagnosed with the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over the age of 50 have access to optimal treatment. We expect full details of the program to be made available in the coming weeks by the government.

Manitoba joins seven other Canadian provinces to reimburse Lucentis, providing patients for whom the diagnosis of wet AMD could previously have meant rapid deterioration of central vision and even blindness, real hope to preserve and improve vision and to maintain their independence.

Lucentis is reimbursed under public drug plans in Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories.

Novartis continues to work with officials in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to ensure all Canadians with wet AMD who rely on provincial drug plans will equally have access to Lucentis.

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.

Lucentis sets a new treatment standard for people suffering from the wet form of AMD as the only approved therapy by Health Canada for wet AMD to demonstrate statistically and clinically significant improvement in vision in the majority of patients. While earlier therapies were able to slow the progression of vision loss, 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.

Designed specifically for use in the eye and administered by injection into the eye, Lucentis helps to stabilize or improve patients' vision and vision-related functions. Lucentis can increase their ability to perform activities requiring central vision such as seeing faces, reading and driving and to maintain their independence.

Source: NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CANADA INC.

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