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Annual General Meeting of Shareholders : Following Major Acquisitions Axcan Sees Period of Strong Growth for Fiscal 2004 and Beyond

Feb 19, 2004 - 12:00 ET

Annual General Meeting of Shareholders : Following Major Acquisitions Axcan Sees Period
of Strong Growth for Fiscal 2004 and Beyond

MONT-SAINT-HILAIRE, QUEBEC--During the Axcan Pharma Inc. ("Axcan" or the "Company")
annual shareholders' meeting held today in Montreal, President and Chief Executive Officer,
Mr. Léon F. Gosselin, cited recent major acquisitions and a 30% increase in the fiscal
2004 research and development budget as key factors that should drive Axcan's future

"We have been very successful over the past year in broadening our product portfolio
through the acquisition of gastroenterology products that were immediately accretive
to our revenue. We have also been successful in bolstering our product development
pipeline by acquiring products and technologies that will provide strong potential
for growth in the near- to mid-term," said Mr. Gosselin. "In addition, a 30% increase
in our research and development expenses for fiscal 2004 is designed to ensure the
rapid progression of our rich pipeline of product candidates to market."

New Directors

During the meeting, two new directors, Dr. E. Rolland Dickson and Mr. Daniel Labrecque
were introduced to the shareholders.

Dr. Dickson is Emeritus Mary Lowell Leary, and has served in senior leadership positions
at the Mayo Clinic for many years, including as Section Head in the Division of
Gastroenterology.  Among his positions at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Dickson was also Professor
of Medicine at Mayo Medical School/Mayo Clinic and is Emeritus Medical Director of
Development at the Mayo Foundation where he has served since 1993 and is a member of the
Board of Trustees. Dr. Dickson serves on the board of directors of a number of pharmaceutical
companies and is President of Mayo Clinic Stiftung in Frankfurt, Germany.

Mr. Labrecque, who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of
N M Rothschild & Sons Canada Limited ("N M Rothschild"), joined the Board of Directors
of Axcan in August 2003. Mr. Labrecque is well known in the investment community and, prior
to his present position with N M Rothschild, he was Managing Director and Chief Operating
Officer of Lazard Asset Management (Canada) Inc. Before joining Lazard, he served as Managing
Director of Schroders Canada for five years before which he served as Executive Vice-President
and Director of Lévesque Beaubien Geoffrion and co-head of that firm's corporate finance and
merger and acquisition practice.  Mr. Labrecque is also the Chairman of the Canadian
INSEAD Foundation and a member of the International Council, as well as a Director of the
C.D. Howe Institute and Director of La Fondation de l'École Nationale de Cirque.

A Growing Research and Development Portfolio

Axcan's shareholders also received the following brief update on the Company's research
and development portfolio during the annual meeting: 

           Pending Approvals

           PHOTOFRIN PDT (PHOTOBARR PDT in Europe) was approved for the ablation of
           High-Grade Dysplasia associated with Barrett's Esophagus in both the United
           States and Canada in 2003.  PHOTOFRIN PDT has been designated as an orphan
           drug in both the United States and Europe, which guarantees Axcan exclusive
           marketing rights for seven years in the United States and ten years in Europe.
           Furthermore, the use of PHOTOBARR PDT in the ablation of High-Grade Dysplasia
           associated with Barrett's Esophagus has been found to be approvable in Europe,
           which should lead to an official European approval by the end of fiscal 2004.

           PHOTOFRIN PDT will also be evaluated for clinical safety and efficacy in the
           treatment of advanced cholangiocarcinoma, a very lethal form of cancer affecting
           the liver bile ducts. Previously reported positive findings obtained from a
           clinical study conducted by Dr. M. Ortner in Germany indicated the high therapeutic
           potential of PHOTOFRIN PDT in this disease. An international Phase III trial will
           be initiated in the second half of fiscal 2004, in order to gather the data
           required for a filing with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA").

           HELIZIDE has been approved in Canada for the eradication of Helicobacter
           pylori bacteria. The Company expects re-submitting in the United States once
           issues related to the ability of a manufacturer of one of HELIZIDE's ingredients
           (bismuth salt) are resolved.

           CANASA 1 gram suppositories. Axcan recently completed a Phase III study in North
           America demonstrating the efficacy and safety of the CANASA 1-gram mesalamine
           suppository administered once per day for the treatment of ulcerative proctitis.
           Axcan filed for regulatory approval of CANASA 1 gram mesalamine suppositories in
           the United States and expects to launch this product in the United States in
           fiscal 2004.

           URSO DS.  Axcan filed a Supplemental New Drug Application in the United States
           for URSO DS (500 milligram ursodiol tablets) for the treatment of Primary Biliary
           Cirrhosis. Approval is expected during fiscal 2004.

           Phase III/IV

           CANASA/SALOFALK rectal gel. Axcan is currently conducting Phase III studies to
           confirm the efficacy and safety of a new mesalamine rectal gel in the treatment
           of distal ulcerative colitis. Final results should be available in the first half
           of fiscal 2004.  Assuming the results of the Phase III studies are positive, the
           Company plans to submit regulatory filings for approvals in the United States and
           Canada and hopes to launch the rectal gel in the United States and Canada
           in fiscal 2005.

           ITAX. Axcan recently acquired the rights to ITAX, a new gastroprokinetic drug
           (itopride HCl). This therapeutic agent will first be developed for the treatment
           of functional dyspepsia (non-ulcer dyspepsia). All required preclinical as well
           as Phase I and II studies have already been conducted in Japan and Europe. In
           preparation for the filing of an Investigational New Drug ("IND") with the FDA
           for ITAX, a meeting took place with the FDA in January 2004 during which the
           overall development plan was discussed and approved by the FDA.  Axcan intends
           to initiate a Phase III program for ITAX in the third quarter of fiscal 2004,
           and complete it in fiscal 2005.

           HEPENAX. L-Ornithine L-Aspartate ("LOLA"), which is known as HEPENAX was
           developed by Merz Pharmaceuticals GmbH in Germany. HEPENAX will be further
           developed in North America and Europe for patients suffering from Portal
           Systemic Encephalopathy ("PSE"). The Company will conduct a Phase II/III
           clinical development program for HEPENAX and plans to seek approval of the
           intravenous formulation to treat the acute symptoms of PSE. The Company intends
           to initiate its clinical research program in the third quarter of fiscal 2004
           and complete such studies in fiscal 2005.

           SALOFALK 750 milligram tablets. Axcan completed a Phase III trial, for the Canadian
           market, on the efficacy and safety of a new 750-milligram mesalamine (5-ASA) tablet
           for the oral treatment of ulcerative colitis. The Company filed a Supplemental New Drug
           Submission for approval in Canada in the first quarter of fiscal 2004 and hopes to
           launch the product in Canada in fiscal 2005. 

           Pre-Clinical, Phase I and II studies

           NCX-1000. The FDA has accepted an Investigational New Drug Application for
           NCX-1000, a patented nitric oxide derivative of ursodiol, for the treatment of
           portal hypertension, a late stage complication of chronic liver disease. The Phase
           I clinical development program, which is designed to demonstrate the tolerability
           and safety of NCX-1000, is almost completed. Phase II studies are planned to begin
           in the third quarter of fiscal 2004. Completion of the entire clinical program is
           expected to occur in the calendar year 2006.

           Ursodiol disulfate. Axcan recently completed a proof of concept study in rats to
           evaluate the effect of ursodiol disulfate on the development of colonic tumors.
           Axcan intends to initiate animal toxicity studies in the third quarter of fiscal 2004,
           which will be followed by clinical Phase I studies.

           NMK 150. Axcan and Nordmark Gmbh, a German pharmaceutical firm have set up NORAX, a
           joint-venture, in order to develop NMK 150, a new high protease pancrelipase
           preparation. This product will be developed for the relief of pain in small duct
           chronic pancreatitis. It is expected that NMK 150 will enter clinical development
           before the end of fiscal 2004.

           NMK 250. NORAX is also developing NMK 250, a bacterial lipase intended to correct
           steatorrhea in patients suffering from diverse causes of pancreatic insufficiency
           (e.g. following surgery for cancer or due to cystic fibrosis). NORAX expects to
           complete the formulation work before the end of fiscal 2004.

Axcan is a leading specialty pharmaceutical company involved in the field of gastroenterology.
The Company markets a broad line of prescription products sold for the treatment of symptoms
in a number of gastrointestinal diseases and disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease,
irritable bowel syndrome, cholestatic liver diseases and complications related to cystic
fibrosis. Axcan's products are marketed by its own sales force in North America and Europe.
Its common hares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "AXP" and on the
NASDAQ National Market under the symbol "AXCA".

"Safe Harbor" statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

To the extent any statements made in this release contain information that is not
historical, including statements related to the expected benefits to Axcan of the
approvals of PHOTOFRIN/PHOTOBARR, HELIZIDE and any other products, these statements
are essentially forward looking and are subject to risks and uncertainties, including
the difficulty of predicting FDA approvals, acceptance and demand for new pharmaceutical
products, the impact of competitive products and pricing, new product development and
launch, reliance on key strategic alliances, availability of raw materials, the regulatory
environment, fluctuations in operating results and other risks detailed from time to time
in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

URSO appearing in this press release are registered trademarks of Axcan Pharma Inc. and
its subsidiaries.

INFORMATION:    David W. Mims
                Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
                Axcan Pharma Inc.
                Tel: (205) 991-8085 ext. 3223

or              Isabelle Adjahi
                Director, Investor Relations
                Axcan Pharma Inc.					
                Tel: (450) 467-2600 ext. 2000