16 June, 2005: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc has launched a nationwide education programme in Canada designed to generate awareness on the risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD is a cause for severe vision loss and blindness in people aged over 50.
More than 2.1 million Canadians are currently affected by AMD, and one in five Canadians aged between 50 and 64 is at risk of developing AMD.
The patient-counselling programme, available at eye doctor's offices across Canada, helps facilitate dialogue between patients and doctors, fulfilling an unmet patient education need. The programme material includes eye doctor reference materials, educational posters detailing the physiology of the eye, and five comprehensive patient-friendly brochures.
These brochures help to better understand the disease, associated risk factors and treatment options for both dry and wet AMD, Novartis said in a release.
Developed in response to patient and doctor demand, the programme was created with the help of eye doctors. A panel of retina specialists, ophthalmologists and optometrists from across Canada reviewed and approved the program, the statement said.
Dr Patricia Harvey, retina specialist, University Health Network said: "The AMD Patient Counselling Programme is a welcomed - and much needed - tool for ocular health professionals and their patients. Both eye doctors and patients will be pleased with the quality and depth of the materials."
"The programme will help ensure patients understand their disease. Thanks to this, doctors have detailed information and patients have easy-to-read materials. This is especially important as the Canadian population ages and cases of AMD are likely to rise."
In addition to the programme, Novartis has invested in raising awareness of AMD and to reinforce the need for early diagnosis through an advertising campaign entitled 'I wish I had known'.
The investment made by Novartis throughout 2004 is the first with respect to AMD awareness. John Snisarenko, Vice President, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada said, “early diagnosis is critical to preventing and treating AMD. Understanding the symptoms and reducing risk factors are integral steps to combating this disease”.