Quebec becomes the first province to recognize the importance of an innovative treatment for Alzheimer's disease



    Exelon(*) Patch, the first and only transdermal therapy for the
    symptomatic treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease is now
    reimbursed in Quebec.

    DORVAL, QC, June 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The first and only transdermal patch
approved for the symptomatic treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease
has been added to the list of drugs reimbursed in Quebec. Quebec is the first
province to recognize both the importance and innovation of Exelon(*) Patch by
making it available to patients. Exelon(*) Patch is the least costly of all the
agents in its class.
    "This announcement is good news for patients and caregivers," said Gérald
Hubert, Executive Director of the Alzheimer Society of Montreal. "Having a
patch treatment option can reduce some of the burden that comes with caring
for a loved one affected by Alzheimer's disease; the patch provides visual
reassurance and therefore could improve the quality of life of patients and
their families."
    While Alzheimer's disease is a chronic condition, statistics show that
after only six months of therapy approximately 50 per cent of patients stop
treatment with oral cholinesterase inhibitors (including Exelon(*) capsules),
the group of drugs typically used to treat the early and middle stage symptoms
of Alzheimer's disease. Some patients simply forget to take their pills, have
trouble swallowing them or have difficulty with side effects resulting in
treatment discontinuation, which can cancel out any treatment benefits.
    Preference study results show that Exelon(*) Patch was chosen over Exelon(*)
capsules by more than 70 per cent of Alzheimer's disease caregivers as a
method of drug delivery. Designed with compliance in mind, Exelon(*) Patch
offers a therapeutic advantage by providing smooth and continuous delivery of
the medication through the skin for a 24-hour period, which may allow patients
to reach and maintain an optimal therapeutic dose throughout the day.
    "The approval of Exelon(*) Patch and now the decision by the Quebec
government to reimburse is excellent news in the field of Alzheimer's
disease," says Dr. Yves Bacher, Geriatrician at the McGill University Health
Center in Montreal, QC. "It is likely that the availability of Exelon(*) Patch
will improve the quality of life of patients with Alzheimer's disease and
their families, because several of the side effects associated with current
medication will be reduced. Compliance with drug therapy and minimization of
side effects are essential components of good geriatrics practice. Adherence
to these two principles will therefore be easier. Furthermore, although it is
a new development in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Exelon(*)
(rivastigmine) is very well-known to physicians working with elderly
patients."
    Quebec has shown leadership in their commitment to the care and treatment
of Alzheimer's disease. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. will continue to
work with the remaining provinces to ensure all patients with Alzheimer's
disease have equal access to Exelon(*) Patch through provincial drug plans.
    Exelon(*) Patch will be reimbursed in Quebec for patients with mild to
moderate Alzheimer's disease as of June 2008.

    About Exelon(*) Patch

    Exelon(*) Patch belongs to a class of drugs known as cholinesterase
inhibitors (ChEIs), which are effective at slowing the symptomatic progression
of Alzheimer's disease. Although effective, ChEIs are commonly associated with
gastrointestinal side effects.
    Exelon(*) Patch study results demonstrate significant benefits to patients
in terms of their memory and ability to perform everyday tasks, as well as
helping their overall functioning. The patch is applied to the back, chest or
upper arm, and provides smooth and continuous delivery of medication through
the skin over 24 hours.
    Treatment is initiated with Exelon(*) Patch 5 (9 mg/5 cm2, in vivo release
rate of 4.6 mg/24h) once a day. If the starting dose is well tolerated, the
dose should be increased to Exelon(*) Patch 10 (18 mg/10 cm2, in vivo release
rate of 9.5 mg/24h) after a minimum of four weeks of treatment. Exelon(*) Patch
10 is the maximum recommended daily maintenance dose.
    In the international IDEAL (Investigation of transDermal Exelon in
ALzheimer's disease) clinical trial involving nearly 1,200 patients with mild
to moderate Alzheimer's disease, the target dose of Exelon(*) Patch 10 was
well-tolerated and led to three times fewer reports of nausea and vomiting
when compared to the highest doses of Exelon(*) capsules. Ninety-six percent of
patients in the Exelon(*) Patch group of the IDEAL study achieved their target
dose, indicating that the drug is well tolerated. Exelon(*) Patch offers the
potential to minimize the risk of stopping treatment and may help Alzheimer's
disease patients live more independently for a longer period of time.
    The IDEAL trial has demonstrated that Exelon(*) Patch has superior efficacy
to placebo, and was as effective as the highest doses of Exelon(*) capsules,
with significantly improved tolerability all the while being the least costly
of all the agents in this class.

    About Alzheimer's Disease

    Currently, more than 450,000 Canadians suffer from Alzheimer's or a
related disease. In 2008, close to 100,000 Canadians will develop Alzheimer's
or a related disease and by 2030 this number is estimated to rise to 750,000,
a 65 per cent increase over the current levels. Alzheimer's disease is a
progressive, degenerative disease that alters the brain, causing impaired
memory, thinking and behaviour. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease affect
different people in different ways, but the most common symptoms begin with
difficulty remembering new information. As the disease progresses, various
abilities become impaired including involvement in daily activities and the
development of behavioral disturbances.

    Forward-Looking Statement

    The foregoing press release contains forward-looking statements that can
be identified by forward-looking terminology, such as "may allow", "offers a
real potential to" or implied statements regarding potential future revenues
from the Exelon(*) Patch. Such statements involve known and unknown risks,
uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results to be
materially different from any future results, performance, or achievements
expressed or implied by such statements. There can be no guarantee that
Exelon(*) Patch will reach any particular sales levels. In particular,
management's expectation regarding the commercial success of Exelon(*) Patch
could be affected by among other things, uncertainties relating to product
development, regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally,
the ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual
property protection and competition in general, as well as factors discussed
in the Form 20F filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one
or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying
assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those
described herein anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Novartis is
providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not
undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in
this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

    About Novartis Canada

    Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., a leader in the healthcare field,
is committed to the discovery, development and marketing of innovative
products to improve the well-being of all Canadians. Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Canada Inc. conducts hundreds of clinical trials across the country seeking
new treatments for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, ophthalmology and
organ transplantation. In 2007, the Company invested over $86 million in
research and development. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. employs more
than 800 people in Canada and its headquarters are located in Dorval, Quebec.
In addition to Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., the Novartis Group in
Canada consists of Novartis Animal Health Canada Inc., Novartis Consumer
Health Canada Inc., CIBA Vision Canada Inc. and Sandoz Canada Inc. For further
information about Novartis Canada, please consult www.novartis.ca.

    About Novartis

    Novartis AG provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs
of patients and societies. Focused solely on growth areas in healthcare,
Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative
medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and
diagnostic tools, and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company
with leading positions in these areas. In 2007, the Group's continuing
operations (excluding divestments in 2007) achieved net sales of
USD 38.1 billion and net income of USD 6.5 billion. Approximately
USD 6.4 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ
approximately 98,200 full-time associates and operate in over 140 countries
around the world. For more information, please visit www.novartis.com.

    (*) Exelon is a registered trademark.




For further information:

For further information: Ethan Pigott, Hill and Knowlton, (416)
413-4744, Mobile: (416) 558-2783, ethan.pigott@hillandknowlton.ca; Silvie
Letendre, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., (514) 633-7872,
silvie.letendre@novartis.com


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