Group Disputes Market for Blindness Drug
A nonprofit research group seeking potential cures for blindness disputed as “hype” estimates by Miravant Medical Technologies Inc. of the potential market for its blindness drug Purlytin. The Macular Degeneration Foundation said the market for the drug, currently in clinical trials, is just 200,000 Americans, against Miravant’s estimate that up to 3 million people could benefit. But Miravant stood by its claims that the drug, which last week gained so-called fast-track review status from federal regulators, has the potential to treat millions of Americans and generate billions of dollars in revenue for the company. Dr. David Seftel, executive vice president of the Macular Degeneration Foundation, told Reuters that Miravant’s claims of up to 3 million American patients were “based on hype, and frankly fantasy.” Seftel was responding to an interview last week in which Miravant Chairman Gary Kledzik told Reuters that Purlytin had the potential to generate billions of dollars in revenue if it won regulatory approval. Kledzik said he stood by his company’s estimates. But he said the 2 million to 3 million figure was the global potential, rather than the number of patients just in the U.S. Miravant’s stock has been on a roller-coaster ride for the last year, hitting a high of $72 and a low of about $19. On Monday, the stock of Santa Barbara-based Miravant fell 81 cents to close at $21.44 on Nasdaq.