CNIB Congratulates the Government of Ontario on Providing Ontarians with the Right to Sight



    TORONTO, March 13 /CNW/ - CNIB applauds the Government of Ontario on its
decision to cover the cost of the breakthrough treatment Lucentis through
Ontario's Public Drug Programs, a decision which promises to prevent needless
blindness in thousands of people province-wide. Ontario is the second Canadian
province to approve reimbursement of this treatment for wet age-related
macular degeneration (AMD), giving all Ontarians access to the first and only
drug clinically proven to actually reverse vision loss caused by AMD for many
patients.
    "The Government of Ontario should be commended for the work it has done
to approve Lucentis for coverage," said Jim Sanders, President and CEO of
CNIB. "After conducting its own research, the government obviously saw this
drug as the highly effective, cost-saving treatment it is."
    The Government of Ontario began looking at Lucentis under its rapid
review process in the fall of 2007, recognizing the innovative nature of the
treatment and its potential benefit to patients. In late 2007, Lucentis came
before Canada's Common Drug Review (CDR), a government advisory body created
to assess new prescription drugs and make recommendations for all of Canada's
provincial and territorial drug plans (not including Quebec).
    CDR did not recommend Lucentis initially; however, it reconsidered the
treatment in January and a final decision is expected by the end of March.
With today's announcement of the reimbursement of Lucentis in Canada's largest
province, CNIB is hopeful that CDR will also recommend Lucentis.
    "There are still tens of thousands of Canadians with wet AMD who, the way
things stand, will not have access to this treatment," said Dr. Keith Gordon,
Head of Research for CNIB. "These people will go needlessly blind unless the
other provinces and territories join Ontario and Quebec and agree to cover
Lucentis as well. A recommendation by the Common Drug Review is essential -
and it just makes good sense for Canada, both financially and in terms of
giving Canadians the health care they deserve."
    AMD is the leading cause of blindness in Canada, contributing
substantially to the $7.9 billion in direct and indirect health costs
associated with vision loss in the country each year. It affects one million
Canadians - more than breast cancer, prostate cancer, Parkinson's and
Alzheimer's disease combined. Wet AMD is the most aggressive and devastating
form of the disease, responsible for 90 per cent of the severe vision loss
associated with AMD. People with wet AMD typically lose their central vision,
which removes the ability to read, drive and see the faces of loved ones.
    Lucentis is the only treatment clinically proven to restore vision in
many patients with wet AMD. Forty per cent of Lucentis-treated wet AMD
patients will experience a clinically significant sustained improvement in
vision, giving them enough sight to resume driving, while 95 per cent will
maintain their vision.
    Lucentis was approved for use in Canada by Health Canada in 2007 and
approved for coverage under the provincial health plan in Quebec shortly
after. Lucentis is also approved and reimbursed in the United States,
Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France and other countries around
the world.
    For more information about the issue, visit www.righttosight.ca.

    CNIB is a nationwide, community-based, registered charity committed to
public education, research and the vision health of all Canadians. CNIB
provides the services and support necessary to enjoy a good quality of life
while living with vision loss. Visit www.cnib.ca or call 1-800-563-2642 to
learn more.





For further information:

For further information: or interviews with CNIB spokespeople, media
should contact Nick Cowling, Optimum PR, (416) 934-8011,
Nick.Cowling@cossette.com

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