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New Drug Could Prevent Blindness

Treats macular degeneration

TUESDAY, Dec. 21, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Macugen (pegaptanib sodium injection), a new therapy to slow vision loss in people with the eye disease wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

"Macugen is among the first treatments to target the underlying biology of wet age-related macular degeneration," Dr. Lester Crawford, acting commissioner of the FDA, said in a statement. "Macugen provides a needed addition to the treatment of patients with this disease."

AMD, a retinal disease that causes severe and irreversible vision loss, is a major cause of blindness in people older than 55. Left untreated, the majority of eyes affected with wet AMD may become functionally blind. Wet AMD, which makes up about 10 percent of AMD cases, is caused by the growth of abnormal leaky blood vessels that eventually damage the area of the eye responsible for central vision, the FDA said.

The safety and efficacy of Macugen was studied in two trials in patients with wet AMD for two years. Patients treated with the drug showed a significant decrease in vision loss in both trials, the agency said.

To learn more about AMD, visit the U.S. National Eye Institute.

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