Blind World

Macular Degeneration.
QLT announces reimbursement for Visudyne(R) in Japan for treatment of age-related macular degeneration.

April 23, 2004.

Press Release.
Source: QLT Inc.

QLT) announced that Visudyne(R) (verteporfin), currently the only treatment for some forms of "wet" age-related macular degeneration (AMD), was reimbursed today in Japan. Visudyne was approved by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) in October 2003 for the "wet" form of AMD with all types of subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV).

"Visudyne therapy is the first approved drug treatment for this devastating condition and we are very pleased to now be in a position to make this therapy available to the Japanese marketplace," said Paul Hastings, President and Chief Executive Officer of QLT Inc. "This is another major milestone in making Visudyne therapy available to improve the lives of so many people on a worldwide basis."

Approval was based on the results of a well-designed 12-month clinical study conducted in Japan, which confirmed the efficacy and safety profile of Visudyne as demonstrated in 3 large randomized controlled trials conducted in the rest of the world. In fact, approximately 3 patients out of 4 participating in this study either maintained or improved their vision as a result of Visudyne therapy. Visudyne was evaluated in Japan as a therapeutic drug for the wet form of AMD following its designation as an orphan drug in June 1997.

About AMD

AMD is the leading cause of legal blindness in people over the age of 50. Its associated vision loss has been shown to significantly decrease quality of life. Everyday tasks such as driving and walking can be severely affected. Awareness of the condition and treatment in the initial stages of the disease are essential for patients to take the necessary steps that lead to diagnosis and early treatment to halt progression of AMD. Vision loss from AMD occurs in two forms: dry and wet. The dry form is associated with atrophic cell death of the central retina. The wet form is caused by growth of abnormal blood vessels (CNV) under the central part of the retina or macula. These vessels leak fluid and blood and cause scar tissue that destroys the central retina. This results in a deterioration of sight over a period of months to years.

End of article.

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