QLT initiates phase II study of punctal plug drug delivery system for glaucoma & ocular hypertension



    VANCOUVER, March 31 /CNW/ - QLT Inc. (NASDAQ:   QLTI; TSX: QLT) announced
today the initiation of patient recruitment into its "CORE" study, a phase II
trial being conducted by QLT's wholly-owned subsidiary, QLT Plug Delivery,
Inc. ("QPD"), to evaluate the preliminary efficacy and safety of its
latanoprost punctal plug delivery system for the treatment of glaucoma and
ocular hypertension. The punctal plug delivery system is a non-invasive drug
delivery system that is being developed with a goal of being capable of
delivering a variety of drugs to the eye over time through sustained release
to the tear film.
    "I believe that a punctal plug drug delivery system could be a catalyst
for a paradigm shift in how glaucoma is treated and this clinical study is a
critical first step in evaluating a component of this system, and it's
potential to help patients manage their disease. If successful, these plugs
could eliminate the patient's dosing dependency and possibly provide
consistent 24-hour control for intraocular pressure (IOP). Our goal in 2008 is
to deliver drug in a punctal plug delivery system to glaucoma patients for
periods of approximately 90 days, with the aim of leading to a therapeutic
drop in IOP," said Bob Butchofsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of
QLT.
    This study is a phase II, randomized, masked, parallel-group study of
safety and preliminary efficacy of a punctal plug drug delivery system
involving up to 60 patients with primary open-angle glaucoma or ocular
hypertension. The punctal plug drug delivery system in this study consists of
three different concentrations of latanoprost, a prostaglandin analogue.
    Prostaglandins represent the largest segment of the U.S. glaucoma market,
accounting for approximately $700 million in sales in 2005. Latanoprost is an
active ingredient that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration
for reducing elevated intraocular pressure in patients with open-angle
glaucoma or ocular hypertension. It is the most-prescribed glaucoma medicine
in the world and in 2006 had franchise sales of $1.7 billion (IMS Health).

    CORE Study Objectives

    The study objectives are to investigate the preliminary efficacy and
safety of the punctal plug drug delivery system, and to determine an
appropriate concentration(s) of drug to advance into late-stage development.
Enrolled subjects will be randomized in an equal ratio to receive one of three
concentrations (low, medium, high) and will be followed for 16 weeks.
    Preliminary efficacy will be evaluated by the proportion of subjects who
have not lost efficacy, defined as an IOP increase to within 2 mmHg below
baseline IOP while wearing a punctal plug with drug that has been continuously
in place since Day 0, and with IOP variables including Goldmann IOP
measurements, IOP change from baseline, and percentage IOP change from
baseline.

    Glaucoma

    Glaucoma affects approximately 65 million patients around the world today
and is the second leading cause of blindness in the western world, according
to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, and WHO. Further, over 50% of glaucoma
patients are noncompliant with their eye drop regimen within six months,
meaning patients don't refill their prescriptions beyond six months (American
Journal of Ophthalmology. v.140 No.4 Oct. 2005) and still, the U.S. market
alone is currently a $1.7 billion opportunity. A chronic life-long disease,
glaucoma is a major health problem, with people needlessly losing vision as a
result.

    QLT Inc. is a global biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the
discovery, development and commercialization of innovative therapies. Our
research and development efforts are focused on pharmaceutical products in the
fields of ophthalmology and dermatology. In addition, we utilize three unique
technology platforms, photodynamic therapy, Atrigel(R) and punctal plugs with
drugs, to create products such as Visudyne and Eligard(R) and future product
opportunities. For more information, visit our web site at www.qltinc.com.

    Atrigel is a registered trademark of QLT USA, Inc.
    Visudyne is a registered trademark of Novartis AG.
    Eligard is a registered trademark of Sanofi-aventis.

    QLT Inc. is listed on The NASDAQ Stock Market under the trading symbol
"QLTI" and on The Toronto Stock Exchange under the trading symbol "QLT."

    Certain statements contained in this press release, which are not
historical facts, are "forward-looking statements," as that term is defined in
the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and constitute
"forward-looking information" within the meaning of applicable Canadian
securities laws. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:
our beliefs regarding the potential benefits, targets, market opportunity and
commercial success of our punctal plug drug delivery system; our expectations
regarding our clinical development plans and strategy for the technology and
timelines associated with these; and statements which contain language such as
"expects," "will," "plans," "estimates," "intends," "believes" and similar
expressions that do not relate to historical matters. These forward-looking
statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors
that may cause our actual results to be materially different from the results
expressed or implied by such statements. Many such risks, uncertainties and
other factors are taken into account as part of our assumptions underlying
these forward-looking statements and include, among others, the following:
risks and uncertainties associated with the timing, expense and outcome of
research and development programs and commercialization of products (including
the difficulty of predicting the timing and outcome of the punctal plug
development efforts, clinical testing and regulatory approvals or actions);
uncertainties regarding the impact of competitive products and pricing; risks
and uncertainties associated with the safety and effectiveness of our
technology; risks and uncertainties related to the scope, validity, and
enforceability of our intellectual property rights and the impact of patents
and other intellectual property of third parties; and other factors as
described in detail in QLT's Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on
Form 10-Q and other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
and Canadian securities regulatory authorities. Forward-looking statements are
based on the current expectations of QLT and QLT does not assume any
obligation to update such information to reflect later events or developments
except as required by law.





For further information:

For further information: QLT Inc.: Vancouver, Canada, Therese Hayes,
Telephone: (604) 707-7000 or 1-800-663-5486, Fax: (604) 707-7001

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