Valeant Pharmaceuticals is paying QLT $112.5 million up front to acquire the latter’s Visudyne (verteporfin) therapy for wet age-related macular degeneration. $62.5 million of the total pays for Valeant’s rights to the Visudyne business and assets in the U.S., and the other $50 million pays for rights to non-U.S. royalties on Visudyne sales. Valeant will also have to make $5 million in contingent payments relating to the development of QLT’s laser program in the U.S., and up to $15 million in contingent payments relating to non-U.S. royalties.

“We are excited about the opportunity to add a complementary product to our growing ophthalmology business,” notes J. Michael Pearson, Valeant’s chairman and CEO. “Not only will we be able to use Visudyne to better leverage our current ophthalmology sales force with a complementary product to Macugen, we are pleased to add a product that retinal specialists around the country can use as an adjunctive to products like Macugen to improve treatment options.”

Valeant took over U.S. rights to the injected age-related macular degeneration drug Mucagen (pegaptanib sodium injection) when it acquired Eyetech in February. Mucagen is a pegylated anti-VEGF aptamer, which is marketed outside the U.S. by Pfizer.

Vancouver-based ocular disease drugs firm QLT announced last month that it was looking to sell off its punctal plug delivery system (PPDS) program for administering drugs to the eye, and was in addition evaluating its Visudyne assets, with a view to focusing resources on its oral synthetic retinoid development program. The firm reported Visudyne sales of $22.3 million for the second quarter of 2012, down 12.4% from the second quarter of 2011. Visudyne sales in the U.S. were $3.9 million, down 39.8%, while sales outside the U.S. were $18.3 million, down 2.9%.

QLT’s synthetic retinoid replacement program is headed by the Phase I-stage candidate QLT091001, a synthetic retinoid replacement for 11-cis-retinal, which is in development initially for the treatment of retinal diseases caused by gene mutations that interfere with the availability of 11-cis-retinal, including Leber congenital amaurosis and retinitis pigmentosa. 

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