Media Advisory: For Nov. 18 FDA Decision on Vision Drug, AHAF Experts Available for Comment

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For the anticipated FDA announcement on November 18 regarding new treatment for macular degeneration, the American Health Assistance Foundation has experts available for comment, as well as inspiring stories of persons living with the disease.

The FDA’s Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee met on June 17, 2011, to review the new drug application for aflibercept ophthalmic solution (trade name EYLEA), a new product for treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD). While the committee made a unanimous recommendation to approve the drug at the June meeting, the FDA announced in August that a decision would be delayed until November 18.

Already affecting 11 million Americans, AMD is likely to affect an increasing number of people as the Baby Boom generation ages. With AMD, patients lose their central or “straight-ahead” vision, which interferes with activities like reading, writing, driving, and recognizing faces.

Also known as VEGF Trap-Eye, Eylea was developed for the treatment of the neovascular form of age-related macular degeneration. It would be given as an eye injection in dosage of 2 milligrams every eight weeks, following three initial doses given every four weeks. This may result in fewer doctor visits, and perhaps greater drug adherence, compared to the limited number of products on the market currently.

Experts Available for Comment
Drs. Guy Eakin and Diane Bovenkamp of the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF) are available for background information, comments, or interviews—to explain the disease, relay concerns of families affected by AMD, and summarize why a new treatment option is a major development. Dr. Eakin’s comments at the June FDA hearing are available online, at http://www.ahaf.org.

AHAF does not endorse any particular product and has no financial relationship to any manufacturers of existing or proposed AMD treatments.

Living with AMD: Artists and Writers Share Their Stories
Available for interviews, three women with special talents try not to let AMD stop their creativity, even as they make changes imposed by the disease. Gloria Smith of California, an 86-year old visual artist, was devastated when diagnosed with macular degeneration at age 65. Yet she continues to paint and to win awards, after changing her style from realistic landscapes to abstract art. Washington, DC artist Marion Reh Gurfein took control by trying a new form of art for her, using scissors and beautiful colored paper. Virginia writer Jean Payne Harper keeps her sense of humor, noting, “While this ailment robs me of what I consider important parts of living, it also supplies some funny and embarrassing moments and makes me learn compensating ways to make life a little more worth living.” She continues to write using computer systems geared to the sight-impaired and other supports.

Read more about Gloria, Marion, Jean and others at http://www.ahaf.org/caregiver-stories-and-tips.html#macular. Contact AHAF Communications for interviews. Detailed information on AMD is also available on the AHAF website at http://www.ahaf.org/macular.

About the American Health Assistance Foundation
The American Health Assistance Foundation (http://www.ahaf.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for age-related degenerative diseases by funding research worldwide under its three program areas: Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Macular Degeneration Research, and National Glaucoma Research. AHAF also provides public information about these diseases.

Stay connected to ground-breaking research news by signing up for AHAF eAlerts at http://www.ahaf.org/news. To follow AHAF on Twitter and Facebook, visit http://www.ahaf.org/connect.

For more information, contact
Melissa May, APR
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
(301) 556-9370
mmay(at)ahaf(dot)org

Alice L. Kirkman
Marketing and Communications Manager
(301) 556-9349

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