Canadian Parkinson's disease patients one step closer to having access to modern treatment

    Common Drug Review recommends reimbursement for long-awaited therapeutic
    option for Parkinson's disease patients experiencing end of dose

    DORVAL, QC, Oct. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Patients in Canada suffering from
Parkinson's disease have finally received good news regarding (Pr)Stalevo(*)
(levodopa, carbidopa and entacapone), a long-awaited treatment for their
disease. Stalevo(*) has been granted listing by the Quebec government, and has
also received a positive recommendation from the Common Drug Review (CDR).
These are important milestones for patients who rely on public drug programs
to cover the cost of their medications. Access to Stalevo(*) will allow patients
to gain better control over the disabling symptoms of Parkinson's disease
while giving new hope for greater independence and improved quality of life
for both patients and their caregivers.
    The listing recommendation calls for Stalevo(*) to be listed in a similar
manner as drug plans list (Pr)Comtan(*) (entacapone) to treat patients with
idiopathic Parkinson's disease experiencing the signs and symptoms of end of
dose "wearing-off" which is a common phenomenon that causes symptoms of the
disease to reappear before it is time to take the next scheduled dose of
medication. Wearing-off leads to slowed movement which can cause tremors and
muscle cramping which are disabling symptoms that can severely limit the
quality of life of people affected by Parkinson's disease.
    "Patients who suffer from wearing-off and their caregivers will be happy
to learn that they are now one step closer to a chance at better control over
the disease," says Dr. Anthony Lang, President of the Movement Disorders
Society who practices at Toronto Western Hospital. "Access to Stalevo(*) can
allow these patients to get more out of their daily activities over a longer
period of time and ultimately help preserve the independence of patients who
suffer from this progressive disorder."

    Quebec leads the way

    The Quebec decision to add Stalevo(*) to the drug benefit list was
announced ahead of the CDR which resulted in Quebec being the first province
to recognize the treatment benefits that Stalevo(*) brings.
    "Parkinson Society Canada believes this is a good decision and that all
Canadians living with Parkinson's should have access to the most appropriate
medications to address their health issues. Drugs deemed safe and effective by
Health Canada should be available to them," says Joyce Gordon, President and
CEO , Parkinson Society Canada.
    Novartis will continue to work with reimbursement officials in all other
provinces to ensure all patients with Parkinson's disease in Canada will have
equal access to Stalevo(*) through provincial drug plans.

    About Stalevo(*)

    Stalevo(*) combines levodopa, an agent used to treat Parkinson's disease,
with carbidopa and an enzyme inhibitor called entacapone. Stalevo(*) was
developed to enhance the benefits of levodopa and provide patients with
improved symptom control for longer periods. By blocking an enzyme called
COMT, entacapone extends the length of time that levodopa remains in the
bloodstream allowing for better control of symptoms.
    In addition to the convenience of administration and smaller pill size,
the combination of entacapone with levodopa/carbidopa in one pill ensures that
entacapone is administered with every levodopa dose, maximizing treatment
    Stalevo(*) is indicated in the treatment of adult patients suffering from
idiopathic Parkinson's disease to substitute for immediate-release
levodopa/carbidopa and entacapone, previously administered as individual
products. Stalevo(*) is also indicated to replace immediate-release
levodopa/carbidopa therapy (without a simultaneous dose of entacapone) when
patients experience the signs and symptoms of end of dose "wearing off" (only
recommended when patients are taking a total daily dose of levodopa of 600 mg
or less and not experiencing dyskinesias).(1)
    Clinical trials show that the combination of levodopa/carbidopa and
entacapone is well tolerated. Reported side effects from clinical trials were
mild to moderate and generally reversible. Most common side effects are
uncontrolled movements, excessive muscle movements, nausea, discoloration of
the urine, diarrhea, dizziness, and abdominal pain. Stalevo(*)
(levodopa/carbidopa/entacapone) is available in doses of 50/12.5/200 mg,
100/25/200 mg and 150/37.5/200 mg.(2)

    Pathology of Parkinson's disease

    Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative condition. It usually affects
people 50 years of age and older. Sometimes the disease is diagnosed in people
under the age of 40 (less than 10 % of people newly diagnosed each year). The
most frequent symptoms are shaking, stiffness of limbs and muscles, and loss
of balance.
    The disease progresses at a rate that varies for each individual and the
dosage of medication is adapted to take into account the evolution of
symptoms. Over time, non-motor symptoms may appear, such as difficulty in
speaking and writing, sleep disturbances, depression, and cognitive changes.

    There is support: Parkinson Society Canada

    For over 40 years, Parkinson Society Canada (PSC) has been the national
voice for people who are living with Parkinson's disease. Over 100,000
Canadians have Parkinson's disease. PSC funds promising scientific research
and provides support for people with Parkinson's, their families and
caregivers through educational programs with over 230 chapters and support
groups. For more information, visit the website or call

    Forward-Looking Statements

    The foregoing press release contains forward-looking statements that can
be identified by forward-looking terminology, such as "modern treatment",
"improved symptom control", "would also be effective" or implied statements
regarding potential future revenues from Stalevo(*). 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 Stalevo(*) will reach any particular sales levels. In
particular, management's expectation regarding the commercial success of
Stalevo(*) 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 as they are 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

    About Novartis

    Novartis AG provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs
of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a
diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines,
cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, 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 98,000 full-time associates and operate in over
140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

    (*) Stalevo and Comtan are registered trademarks.

    (1) Stalevo(*) Product Monograph dated February 15, 2008
    (2) Stalevo(*) Product Monograph, dated February 15, 2008
    (3) Parkinson Society Canada, What is Parkinson's?, site visited on
        September 4, 2008.

For further information:

For further information: Geneviève Déry, HKDP Communications and public
affairs, (514) 395-0375 ext. 232, Cell: (514) 219-2764,; Lise
Huneault, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., (514) 631-6775 ext.1203, Cell:
(514) 966-7524,

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