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Released 02/21/2003

CIBA VISION Purchases PRL™ Phakic Refractive Lens From Medennium, Inc.


ATLANTA - CIBA VISION announced today it has signed an agreement with Irvine, California-based Medennium, Inc. to purchase the PRL™ posterior chamber phakic refractive lens. This agreement includes all intellectual property rights, product registrations and certain tangible assets relating to the PRL. CIBA VISION initially signed a worldwide licensing and distribution agreement for Medennium's PRL in July, 2000.

The PRL is a posterior chamber phakic refractive lens, which is implanted in the eye to correct myopia and hyperopia. Doctors and patients may prefer the concept of an implanted lens, which is reversible, over laser surgery, which is a permanent alteration of the surface of the cornea.

The PRL is a unique silicone, plate-haptic, posterior-chamber phakic refractive lens with a foldable design that can be implanted through a 3.2 mm incision. The PRL is the only phakic intraocular lens designed to be independent of any intraocular structural support for fixation. The PRL floats above the anterior surface of the crystalline lens on an aqueous fluid layer.

"The agreement to purchase the PRL gives us a strong presence in the emerging phakic refractive lens market," said Robin Terrell, president of CIBA VISION's Surgical Business Franchise. "The fact that the procedure isn't a permanent alteration to the cornea and that it is reversible, is a large part of the lens' popularity."

The PRL received the CE Mark, European Union regulatory approval, in December, 2000. In the United States, the device has entered Phase III clinical trials for myopia and Phase II for hyperopia. As part of the agreement, CIBA VISION will assume responsibility for the clinical trials.

Medennium will continue to manufacture the PRL for a transitional period. Outside of the U.S., the PRL lens is currently available in a range of diopters. The myopic model is available in 0.5 diopter increments between -3 and -20. The hyperopic model is available in 0.5 diopter increments between +3 and +15.

CIBA VISION Surgical products globally include the Ex-PRESS™ mini glaucoma shunt, the pre-rolled CV232 SRE™ square-round edge intraocular lens; PRL™, Vivarte™ and Vivarte PRESBYOPIC phakic refractive lenses; UniVisc™, VisThesia™ and Ophthalin™ brand viscoelastics; the Tear Saver® punctum plug product line and the Tear Film Analyzer for diagnosing dry eyes. Some products are not available in the U.S.

With worldwide headquarters in Atlanta, CIBA VISION is a global leader in research, development and manufacturing of optical and ophthalmic products and services, including contact lenses, lens care products and ophthalmic surgical products. CIBA VISION products are available in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit the CIBA VISION web site at www.cibavision.com.

CIBA VISION is the eye care unit of Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS), a world leader in pharmaceuticals and consumer health. In 2002, the Group's businesses achieved sales of CHF 32.4 billion (USD 20.9 billion) and a net income of CHF 7.3 billion (USD 4.7 billion). The Group invested approximately CHF 4.3 billion (USD 2.8 billion) in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ about 72 900 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For further information please consult www.novartis.com.

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