What Is Pegaptanib?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Pegaptanib is a medication used to control the symptoms of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is injected directly into the eye. The drug manages the condition, but does not provide a cure. Pegaptanib is marketed under the product name Macugen®.

The drug is in the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antagonist class. It works by targeting two primary symptoms of AMD: blood vessel leakage and difficulty forming new blood vessels properly. Pegaptanib contains nucleic acid, which contains important life-generating molecules that cling to protein in the eye, thus creating the material to generate healthy new vessels. It also strengthens existing blood vessels, which helps to prevent leakage.

Pegaptanib is typically administered in a medical facility approximately every six weeks. Before injection, the eye is numbed. The patient should only feel slight pressure during the injection. Doctors will typically observe a patient for a short period after the injection in order to ensure that it is not causing an adverse affect on the patient’s vision.

There are some mild possible side effects of receiving the pegaptanib injection. These should only be discussed with a doctor if they persist or become more serious. They include dizziness, diarrhea, and nausea. Some patients may also experience discomfort in or discharge from the eyes.


The more serious side effects of pegaptanib injections should be discussed with a doctor as soon as possible. They include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and worsening or any other changes in vision. Some patients may also see floaters or light flashes. Swelling, redness, or pain in the eyes or eyelid should also be treated. Any signs of an allergic reaction, including breathing or swallowing difficulties, swelling in the areas from the neck up, and hives or a rash should receive emergency medical attention.

Wet age-related macular degeneration primarily affects the elderly. It involves the damage of the retina, which affects the macula, or the center of vision in the eye. A patient with this condition will often have normally functioning peripheral vision, but struggle to see straight ahead. Pegaptanib helps to restore retinal function, but only temporarily; once an injection has worn off, the patient will typically have the same vision problems. There is also a dry form of age-related macular degeneration in which the central vision is also affected, though this is due to the loss of photoreceptors in the eye instead of blood vessel problems.



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