QLT stock rockets as acne drug is cleared for takeoff

Shares of QLT rocketed up 55 percent in a tense market yesterday after the biotech finished a lengthy task in persuading the FDA that a blood test should not be required before doctors prescribe its new acne medication. QLT's Aczone was approved three years ago but never commercialized as the company set out to prove in clinical trials that a blood test should not be required. The regulatory approval also clears the way for QLT to complete its planned sale of its U.S. division, which holds the rights to aczone and eligard, a prostate cancer drug. QLT says the acne medication has the potential to earn around $100 million a year. Analysts say that even if a buyer can't be found QLT can go ahead and launch the new drug.

QLT has been restructuring, laying off more than 100 workers near the start of year. QLT was disappointed by the sales of Visudyne, a therapy for age-related macular degeneration, but hopes that tests of a combination therapy using Visudyne will demonstrate it can be a cheaper, quicker alternative to current therapies. A new acne drug is also in the pipeline.

- see QLT's release for more
- check out the report in the Globe and Mail