How does it work?
Macugen injection contains the active ingredient pegaptanib sodium, which is a type of medicine called a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor. It is used in the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
In wet ARMD, blood vessels from the back of the eye grow in an abnormal fashion into an area called the macula at the back of the eye. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for seeing fine detail, such as reading, seeing facial features and interpreting different colours.
The blood vessels that grow abnormally into the macula in wet ARMD may leak or bleed into this area, causing a rapid and significant reduction in central vision. A substance called vascular endothelial growth factor A is responsible for making the blood vessels grow and leak.
Pegaptanib is a monoclonal antibody that has been designed to specifically recognise and bind to vascular endothelial growth factor. By binding to VEGF, pegaptanib blocks the action of this substance, which helps to stop the growth and leakage of blood vessels in the eye. The medicine can help improve damaged vision, or prevent it from getting worse.
Macugen injection is administered directly into the eye under a local anaesthetic by a specialist eye consultant. The injection is given every six weeks.
What is it used for?
- Neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration.
- Following treatment with this medicine you may develop temporary visual disturbances that may affect your ability to drive and operate machinery. If affected you should not drive or use machines until your vision improves.
- Occasionally after having Macugen injection, some people may develop an infection inside the eye, pain or redness in the eye (inflammation), detachment or tear of the layer in the back of the eye (retinal detachment or tear), or clouding of the lens (cataract). It is important to identify and treat infections or retinal detachment as soon as possible. For this reason you should tell your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms after having this injection: eye pain or increased discomfort, worsening eye redness, blurred or decreased vision, an increased number of small particles in your vision or increased sensitivity to light.
- You may be asked to use antibiotic eye drops or other types of antibiotic before and after each injection of Macugen to help prevent infection of the eye. It is important to use these regularly as directed.
- This medicine may very rarely cause an allergic reaction called angioedema. For this reason you should inform your doctor immediately if you experience difficulty breathing or swallowing, or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, feet or ankles soon after having an injection.
Use with caution in
- People with severely decreased kidney function.
Not to be used in
- People with active or suspected infection in or around the eye.
- This medicine is not recommended for children and adolescents under 18 years of age because it has not been studied in this age group.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- The safety of this medicine for use during pregnancy has not been established. The medicine is unlikely to pass into the bloodstream in significant amounts following administration to the eye; however, if it does it could be potentially harmful to a developing baby. For this reason it should not be used during pregnancy, unless the expected benefits to the mother outweigh any potential risks to the foetus. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
- It is not known whether this medicine passes into breast milk. For this reason, it is not recommended for nursing mothers. Seek further medical advice from your doctor.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
- Eye pain, inflammation, irritation, itching.
- Raised pressure inside the eye (ocular hypertension).
- Infection inside the eye (endophthalmitis).
- Bleeding of the blood vessels in the lining (conjunctiva) of the eye (conjunctival haemorrhage).
- Sensation of something in the eye(s).
- Dry or watery eyes.
- Visual disturbances.
- Runny nose (rhinorrhoea).
- Dislike of light (photophobia).
- Dilated pupil.
- Retinal tear or detachment.
- Bleeding inside the eyeball (vitreous haemorrhage).
- Flu-like symptoms.
- Increase in blood pressure (hypertension).
- Severe swelling of lips, face, tongue or throat (angioedema - see warning above).
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the drug's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
How can this medicine affect other medicines?
It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while being treated with this one, to ensure that the combination is safe.
It is recommended that pegaptanib is not administered in combination with other vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors, such as ranibizumab.
Other medicines containing the same active ingredient
There are currently no other medicines available in the UK that contain pegaptanib as the active ingredient.