Common Drug Review Has Another Chance to Prevent Needless Blindness for Tens of Thousands of Canadians



    - CDR recommendation could save millions in costs to public system and
    provide greater quality of life for Canadians affected by AMD -

    TORONTO, Jan. 9 /CNW/ - CNIB launched the Right to Sight advocacy
campaign today to encourage Canadians to ask the Common Drug Review (CDR) to
recommend a breakthrough treatment for the leading cause of vision loss in
Canadians. Without a recommendation for Lucentis, which is being reconsidered
on January 23, 2008, tens of thousands of Canadians will not be able to afford
the only clinically proven treatment that in many patients can restore vision
caused by wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
    "For the first time, a clinically proven treatment that reverses vision
loss caused by wet AMD is available in Canada, yet without a recommendation
from the Common Drug Review, tens of thousands of Canadians will go needlessly
blind," said Jim Sanders, President and CEO of CNIB. "The initial review for
Lucentis received a negative decision, but it is being reviewed again in a
couple of weeks. We are asking Canadians to join us in informing our elected
officials and the Common Drug Review that everyone has a Right to Sight and
that a CDR recommendation is absolutely paramount in making that a reality for
many Canadians."
    AMD affects more Canadians than many other well-known diseases. In fact,
it affects more Canadians than breast cancer, prostate cancer, Parkinson's and
Alzheimer's disease combined and is the leading cause of vision loss in
Canadians. It is estimated that more than a million Canadians have AMD and
more than 100,000 are currently affected by wet AMD, with the incidence
expected to double within the next 25 years.
    Wet AMD is the most aggressive form of the disease, responsible for 90%
of the severe vision loss associated with AMD, and has a devastating impact on
both the people who develop the disease and their families. It removes the
ability to read, drive and see the faces of loved ones. People diagnosed with
AMD often develop serious depression and are more likely to be admitted to
nursing homes or sustain serious falls compared to the general population.
Further, the cost of vision loss in Canada, much of it driven by AMD, is
estimated at $7.9 billion per year in direct and indirect healthcare costs -
on par with diseases such as diabetes. Indirect costs include lower expected
earnings for people with vision loss, cost of medical aids and rehabilitation
services, cost of caregivers' time and effort and loss of taxes from lower
earnings.
    "The recommendation of Lucentis should have been an easy decision for CDR
the first time it reviewed the treatment," said Dr. Keith Gordon, Head of
Research for CNIB. "It's the only clinically proven treatment that can
actually improve vision for many of those affected by wet AMD. The benefits of
maintaining a person's vision more than justify the cost of the drug."
    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. The government of Ontario has also recognized the significance of the
treatment by considering it under its rapid review process. Lucentis is also
approved and reimbursed in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom,
Switzerland, France and other countries around the world.
    Canadians who would like to participate in the Right to Sight campaign
should visit www.righttosight.ca to tell their government and CDR that
everyone in Canada has the right to read, drive and see the faces of their
loved ones. The website allows visitors to easily send a letter in support of
the recommendation of Lucentis to appropriate government officials and Mike
Tierney, Vice-President, Common Drug Review. Canadians can also call
1-800-563-CNIB for more information if they prefer to contact decision makers
by mail or phone. Further, CNIB has developed a group on the popular social
networking site Facebook, called 10,000 Strong for the Right to Sight in
Canada. The public is encouraged to join the group to get more information
about AMD, post stories about their experiences with the disease and show
support for the campaign.

    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.




For further information:

For further information: or for interviews with CNIB spokespersons,
patients, or retinal specialists: Nick Cowling, Optimum PR, (416) 934-8011,
Nick.Cowling@cossette.com

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