Mass. Eye and Ear receives $126 million after verteporfin lawsuit

August 5, 2009

The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston has received $126 million from the recent resolution of a nearly decade-long lawsuit concerning the hospital's role in the development of verteporfin for injection (Visudyne).

Boston

-The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston said it has received $126 million from the recent resolution of a nearly decade-long lawsuit concerning the hospital’s role in the development of verteporfin for injection (Visudyne).

The institution said in a prepared statement that it received the funds from QLT Inc. as part of a judgment that awarded the hospital royalties of 3.01% on worldwide past, present, and future net sales of the drug. According to information on QLT’s Web site, verteporfin is manufactured for QLT and was co-developed by Novartis, which also distributes the drug in the United States and Canada.

The case, which began 9 years ago, related to the work of Joan W. Miller, MD, and Evangelos S. Gragoudas, MD, whose research in photodynamic therapy led to the development of verteporfin, according to the statement. In 2000, the drug became the first to be FDA-approved for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration. In 2001, verteporfin also was approved for the treatment of pathological myopia and presumed ocular histoplasmosis, according to information on the Novartis Web site.

“We are very proud of the pioneering research done by Drs. Miller and Gragoudas and [of] our tradition of research to transform medical care,” said John Fernandez, Mass. Eye and Ear president and chief executive officer. “This award will be reinvested in research and educational programs, thereby furthering our mission to improve clinical care, train the next generation of medical leaders, and develop more treatments for those who suffer from debilitating diseases.”

The award became final when QLT did not appeal a January ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the statement released by the hospital. That ruling affirmed a lower court’s decision in favor of Mass. Eye and Ear on claims of unjust enrichment and unfair trade practices against QLT.

“This has been a long, hard fight for a specialty teaching hospital, but Mass. Eye and Ear is ‘the little hospital that could,’ ” said Dr. Miller, chief of ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and chair of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “These funds solidify our leadership position as a center of excellence for clinical care, research, and teaching.”