Recommended Topic Related To:


"April 20, 2012 -- Novartis, the maker of the drug Gilenya (fingolimod), a once-daily oral capsule taken for multiple sclerosis, has added stronger warnings to labels and prescription information about the drug's possible heart risks, according to"...




Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Bradyarrhythmia And Atrioventricular Blocks

Because of a risk for bradyarrhythmia and atrioventricular (AV) blocks, patients should be monitored during GILENYA treatment initiation [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Reduction in Heart Rate

After the first dose of GILENYA, the heart rate decrease starts within an hour. On Day 1, the maximal decline in heart rate generally occurs within 6 hours and recovers, although not to baseline levels, by 8-10 hours postdose. Because of physiological diurnal variation, there is a second period of heart rate decrease within 24 hours after the first dose. In some patients, heart rate decrease during the second period is more pronounced than the decrease observed in the first 6 hours. Heart rates below 40 beats per minute were rarely observed. Adverse reactions of symptomatic bradycardia following the first dose were reported in 0.5% of patients receiving GILENYA 0.5 mg, but in no patient on placebo. Patients who experienced bradycardia were generally asymptomatic, but some patients experienced hypotension, dizziness, fatigue, palpitations, and chest pain that usually resolved within the first 24 hours on treatment.

Following the second dose, a further decrease in heart rate may occur when compared to the heart rate prior to the second dose, but this change is of a smaller magnitude than that observed following the first dose. With continued dosing, the heart rate returns to baseline within 1 month of chronic treatment.

Atrioventricular Blocks

Initiation of GILENYA treatment has resulted in transient AV conduction delays. In controlled clinical trials, adverse reactions of first-degree AV block (prolonged PR interval on ECG) following the first dose were reported in 0.1% of patients receiving GILENYA 0.5 mg, but in no patient on placebo. Second-degree AV blocks following the first dose were also identified in 0.1% of patients receiving GILENYA 0.5 mg, but in no patient on placebo. In a study of 698 patients with available 24-hour Holter monitoring data after their first dose (N=351 on GILENYA 0.5 mg and N=347 on placebo), second-degree AV blocks, Mobitz types I (Wenckebach) and/or II, were reported in 3.7% (N=13) of patients receiving GILENYA 0.5 mg and 2% (N=7) of patients on placebo. The conduction abnormalities were usually transient and asymptomatic, and resolved within the first 24 hours on treatment, but they occasionally required treatment with atropine or isoproterenol.

Postmarketing Experience

In the postmarketing setting, third-degree AV block and AV block with junctional escape have been observed during the first-dose 6-hour observation period with GILENYA. Isolated delayed onset events, including transient asystole and unexplained death, have occurred within 24 hours of the first dose. These events were confounded by concomitant medications and/or preexisting disease, and the relationship to GILENYA is uncertain. Cases of syncope were also reported after the first dose of GILENYA.


Risk of Infections

GILENYA causes a dose-dependent reduction in peripheral lymphocyte count to 20%–30% of baseline values because of reversible sequestration of lymphocytes in lymphoid tissues. GILENYA may therefore increase the risk of infections, some serious in nature [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Before initiating treatment with GILENYA, a recent CBC (i.e., within 6 months) should be available. Consider suspending treatment with GILENYA if a patient develops a serious infection, and reassess the benefits and risks prior to reinitiation of therapy. Because the elimination of fingolimod after discontinuation may take up to 2 months, continue monitoring for infections throughout this period. Instruct patients receiving GILENYA to report symptoms of infections to a physician. Patients with active acute or chronic infections should not start treatment until the infection(s) is resolved.

Two patients died of herpetic infections during GILENYA controlled studies in the premarketing database (1 disseminated primary herpes zoster and 1 herpes simplex encephalitis). In both cases, the patients were receiving a fingolimod dose (1.25 mg) higher than recommended for the treatment of MS (0.5 mg), and had received high-dose corticosteroid therapy for suspected MS relapse. No deaths due to viral infections occurred in patients treated with GILENYA 0.5 mg in the premarketing database.

In MS controlled studies, the overall rate of infections (72%) and serious infections (2%) with GILENYA 0.5 mg was similar to placebo. However, bronchitis and, to a lesser extent, pneumonia were more common in GILENYA-treated patients.

Prior and Concomitant Treatment with Antineoplastic, Immunosuppressive, or Immune-Modulating Therapies

GILENYA has not been administered concomitantly with antineoplastic, immunosuppressive, or immune-modulating therapies used for treatment of MS. Concomitant use of GILENYA with any of these therapies would be expected to increase the risk of immunosuppression [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

When switching from other immunosuppressive medications, the duration and mode of action of such substances must be considered when initiating Gilenya to avoid additive immunosuppressive effects.

Varicella Zoster Virus Antibody Testing/Vaccination

As for any immune-modulating drug, before initiating GILENYA therapy, patients without a history of chickenpox or without vaccination against varicella zoster virus (VZV) should be tested for antibodies to VZV. VZV vaccination of antibody-negative patients should be considered prior to commencing treatment with GILENYA, following which initiation of treatment with GILENYA should be postponed for 1 month to allow the full effect of vaccination to occur.

Macular Edema

In patients receiving GILENYA 0.5 mg, macular edema occurred in 0.4% of patients. An adequate ophthalmologic evaluation should be performed at baseline and 3-4 months after treatment initiation. If patients report visual disturbances at any time while on GILENYA therapy, additional ophthalmologic evaluation should be undertaken.

In MS controlled studies involving 1204 patients treated with GILENYA 0.5 mg and 861 patients treated with placebo, macular edema with or without visual symptoms was reported in 0.4% of patients treated with GILENYA 0.5 mg and 0.1% of patients treated with placebo; it occurred predominantly in the first 3-4 months of therapy. Some patients presented with blurred vision or decreased visual acuity, but others were asymptomatic and diagnosed on routine ophthalmologic examination. Macular edema generally improved or resolved with or without treatment after drug discontinuation, but some patients had residual visual acuity loss even after resolution of macular edema.

Continuation of GILENYA in patients who develop macular edema has not been evaluated. A decision on whether or not to discontinue GILENYA therapy should include an assessment of the potential benefits and risks for the individual patient. The risk of recurrence after rechallenge has not been evaluated.

Macular Edema in Patients with History of Uveitis or Diabetes Mellitus

Patients with a history of uveitis and patients with diabetes mellitus are at increased risk of macular edema during GILENYA therapy. The incidence of macular edema is also increased in MS patients with a history of uveitis. The rate was approximately 20% in patients with a history of uveitis versus 0.6% in those without a history of uveitis, in the combined experience with all doses of fingolimod. MS patients with diabetes mellitus or a history of uveitis should undergo an ophthalmologic evaluation prior to initiating GILENYA therapy and have regular follow-up ophthalmologic evaluations while receiving GILENYA therapy. GILENYA has not been tested in MS patients with diabetes mellitus.

Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome

There have been rare cases of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) reported in patients receiving Gilenya. Symptoms reported included sudden onset of severe headache, altered mental status, visual disturbances, and seizure. Symptoms of PRES are usually reversible but may evolve into ischemic stroke or cerebral hemorrhage. Delay in diagnosis and treatment may lead to permanent neurological sequelae. If PRES is suspected, GILENYA should be discontinued.

Respiratory Effects

Dose-dependent reductions in forced expiratory volume over 1 second (FEV1) and diffusion lung capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) were observed in patients treated with GILENYA as early as 1 month after treatment initiation. At Month 24, the reduction from baseline in the percent of predicted values for FEV1 was 3.1% for GILENYA 0.5 mg and 2% for placebo. For DLCO, the reductions from baseline in percent of predicted values at Month 24 were 3.8% for GILENYA 0.5 mg and 2.7% for placebo. The changes in FEV1 appear to be reversible after treatment discontinuation. There is insufficient information to determine the reversibility of the decrease of DLCO after drug discontinuation. In MS controlled trials, dyspnea was reported in 5% of patients receiving GILENYA 0.5 mg and 4% of patients receiving placebo. Several patients discontinued GILENYA because of unexplained dyspnea during the extension (uncontrolled) studies. GILENYA has not been tested in MS patients with compromised respiratory function.

Spirometric evaluation of respiratory function and evaluation of DLCO should be performed during therapy with GILENYA if clinically indicated.

Liver Injury

Elevations of liver enzymes may occur in patients receiving GILENYA. Recent (i.e., within last 6 months) transaminase and bilirubin levels should be available before initiation of GILENYA therapy.

During clinical trials, 3-fold the upper limit of normal (ULN) or greater elevation in liver transaminases occurred in 8% of patients treated with GILENYA 0.5 mg, as compared to 2% of patients on placebo. Elevations 5-fold the ULN occurred in 2% of patients on GILENYA and 1% of patients on placebo. In clinical trials, GILENYA was discontinued if the elevation exceeded 5 times the ULN. Recurrence of liver transaminase elevations occurred with rechallenge in some patients, supporting a relationship to drug. The majority of elevations occurred within 6-9 months. Serum transaminase levels returned to normal within approximately 2 months after discontinuation of GILENYA.

Liver enzymes should be monitored in patients who develop symptoms suggestive of hepatic dysfunction, such as unexplained nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, anorexia, or jaundice and/or dark urine. GILENYA should be discontinued if significant liver injury is confirmed. Patients with preexisting liver disease may be at increased risk of developing elevated liver enzymes when taking GILENYA.

Because GILENYA exposure is doubled in patients with severe hepatic impairment, these patients should be closely monitored, as the risk of adverse reactions is greater [see Use In Specific Populations, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Fetal Risk

Based on animal studies, GILENYA may cause fetal harm. Because it takes approximately 2 months to eliminate GILENYA from the body, women of childbearing potential should use effective contraception to avoid pregnancy during and for 2 months after stopping GILENYA treatment.

Blood Pressure Effects

In MS clinical trials, patients treated with GILENYA 0.5 mg had an average increase over placebo of approximately 3 mmHg in systolic pressure, and approximately 2 mmHg in diastolic pressure, first detected after approximately 1 month of treatment initiation, and persisting with continued treatment. Hypertension was reported as an adverse reaction in 8% of patients on GILENYA 0.5 mg and in 4% of patients on placebo. Blood pressure should be monitored during treatment with GILENYA.

Immune System Effects Following GILENYA Discontinuation

Fingolimod remains in the blood and has pharmacodynamic effects, including decreased lymphocyte counts, for up to 2 months following the last dose of GILENYA. Lymphocyte counts generally return to the normal range within 1-2 months of stopping therapy [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Because of the continuing pharmacodynamic effects of fingolimod, initiating other drugs during this period warrants the same considerations needed for concomitant administration (e.g., risk of additive immunosuppressant effects) [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Patient Counseling Information

See Medication Guide.

A Medication Guide is required for distribution with GILENYA. Encourage patients to read the GILENYA Medication Guide. The complete text of the Medication Guide is reprinted at the end of this document.

Benefits and Risks

Summarize for patients the benefits and potential risks of treatment with GILENYA. Tell patients to take GILENYA once daily as prescribed. Tell patients not to discontinue GILENYA without first discussing this with the prescribing physician. Advise patients to contact their physician if they accidently take more Gilenya than prescribed.

Cardiac Effects

Advise patients that initiation of GILENYA treatment results in a transient decrease in heart rate. Inform patients that they will need to be observed in the doctor's office or other facility for at least 6 hours after the first dose. Advise patients that if GILENYA is discontinued for more than 14 days, effects similar to those observed on treatment initiation may be seen and observation for at least 6 hours will be needed on treatment reinitiation, and that the same precautions will be taken if treatment is interrupted for more than 1 day within the first 2 weeks of treatment, or for more than 7 days during week 3 and 4 of treatment.

Risk of Infections

Inform patients that they may be more likely to get infections when taking GILENYA, and that they should contact their physician if they develop symptoms of infection. Advise patients that the use of some vaccines should be avoided during treatment with GILENYA and for 2 months after discontinuation. Advise patients who have not had chickenpox or vaccination to consider VZV vaccination prior to commencing treatment with GILENYA. Inform patients that prior or concomitant use of drugs that suppress the immune system may increase the risk of infection.

Macular Edema

Advise patients that GILENYA may cause macular edema, and that they should contact their physician if they experience any changes in their vision. Inform patients with diabetes mellitus or a history of uveitis that their risk of macular edema is increased.

Respiratory Effects

Advise patients that they should contact their physician if they experience new onset or worsening of dyspnea.

Hepatic Effects

Inform patients that GILENYA may increase liver enzymes. Advise patients that they should contact their physician if they have any unexplained nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, anorexia, or jaundice and/or dark urine.

Fetal Risk

Inform patients that, based on animal studies, GILENYA may cause fetal harm. Discuss with women of childbearing age whether they are pregnant, might be pregnant or are trying to become pregnant. Advise women of childbearing age of the need for effective contraception during GILENYA treatment and for 2 months after stopping GILENYA. Advise the patient that if she should nevertheless become pregnant, she should immediately inform her physician.

Persistence of GILENYA Effects After Drug Discontinuation

Advise patients that GILENYA remains in the blood and continues to have effects, including decreased blood lymphocyte counts, for up to 2 months following the last dose.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility

Oral carcinogenicity studies of fingolimod were conducted in mice and rats. In mice, fingolimod was administered at oral doses of 0, 0.025, 0.25, and 2.5 mg/kg/day for up to 2 years. The incidence of malignant lymphoma was increased in males and females at the mid and high dose. The lowest dose tested (0.025 mg/kg/day) is less than the recommended human dose (RHD) of 0.5 mg/day on a body surface area (mg/m²) basis. In rats, fingolimod was administered at oral doses of 0, 0.05, 0.15, 0.5, and 2.5 mg/kg/day. No increase in tumors was observed. The highest dose tested (2.5 mg/kg/day) is approximately 50 times the RHD on a mg/m² basis.

Fingolimod was negative in a battery of in vitro (Ames, mouse lymphoma thymidine kinase, chromosomal aberration in mammalian cells) and in vivo (micronucleus in mouse and rat) assays.

When fingolimod was administered orally (0, 1, 3, and 10 mg/kg/day) to male and female rats prior to and during mating, and continuing to Day 7 of gestation in females, no effect on fertility was observed up to the highest dose tested (10 mg/kg), which is approximately 200 times the RHD on a mg/m² basis.

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category C

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. In oral studies conducted in rats and rabbits, fingolimod demonstrated developmental toxicity, including teratogenicity (rats) and embryolethality, when given to pregnant animals. In rats, the highest no-effect dose was less than the recommended human dose (RHD) of 0.5 mg/day on a body surface area (mg/m²) basis. The most common fetal visceral malformations in rats included persistent truncus arteriosus and ventricular septal defect. The receptor affected by fingolimod (sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor) is known to be involved in vascular formation during embryogenesis. Because it takes approximately 2 months to eliminate fingolimod from the body, potential risks to the fetus may persist after treatment ends [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. GILENYA should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Pregnancy Registry

A pregnancy registry has been established to collect information about the effect of GILENYA use during pregnancy. Physicians are encouraged to enroll pregnant patients, or pregnant women may register themselves in the GILENYA pregnancy registry by calling Outcome at 1-877-598-7237, sending an email to or visiting

Animal Data

When fingolimod was orally administered to pregnant rats during the period of organogenesis (0, 0.03, 0.1, and 0.3 mg/kg/day or 0, 1, 3, and 10 mg/kg/day), increased incidences of fetal malformations and embryo-fetal deaths were observed at all but the lowest dose tested (0.03 mg/kg/day), which is less than the RHD on a mg/m² basis. Oral administration to pregnant rabbits during organogenesis (0, 0.5, 1.5, and 5 mg/kg/day) resulted in increased incidences of embryo-fetal mortality and fetal growth retardation at the mid and high doses. The no-effect dose for these effects in rabbits (0.5 mg/kg/day) is approximately 20 times the RHD on a mg/m² basis.

When fingolimod was orally administered to female rats during pregnancy and lactation (0, 0.05, 0.15, and 0.5 mg/kg/day), pup survival was decreased at all doses and a neurobehavioral (learning) deficit was seen in offspring at the high dose. The low-effect dose of 0.05 mg/kg/day is similar to the RHD on a mg/m² basis.

Labor And Delivery

The effects of GILENYA on labor and delivery are unknown.

Nursing Mothers

Fingolimod is excreted in the milk of treated rats. It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from GILENYA, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

The safety and effectiveness of GILENYA in pediatric patients with MS below the age of 18 years have not been established.

In a study in which fingolimod (0.3, 1.5, or 7.5 mg/kg/day) was orally administered to young rats from weaning through sexual maturity, changes in bone mineral density and persistent neurobehavioral impairment (altered auditory startle) were observed at all doses. Delayed sexual maturation was noted in females at the highest dose tested and in males at all doses. The bone changes observed in fingolimod-treated juvenile rats are consistent with a reported role of S1P in the regulation of bone mineral homeostasis.

When fingolimod (0.5 or 5 mg/kg/day) was orally administered to rats from the neonatal period through sexual maturity, a marked decrease in T-cell dependent antibody response was observed at both doses. This effect had not fully recovered by 6-8 weeks after the end of treatment.

Geriatric Use

Clinical MS studies of GILENYA did not include sufficient numbers of patients aged 65 years and over to determine whether they respond differently than younger patients. GILENYA should be used with caution in patients aged 65 years and over, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, or renal, function and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.

Hepatic Impairment

Because fingolimod, but not fingolimod-phosphate, exposure is doubled in patients with severe hepatic impairment, patients with severe hepatic impairment should be closely monitored, as the risk of adverse reactions may be greater [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

No dose adjustment is needed in patients with mild or moderate hepatic impairment.

Renal Impairment

The blood level of some GILENYA metabolites is increased (up to 13-fold) in patients with severe renal impairment [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. The toxicity of these metabolites has not been fully explored. The blood level of these metabolites has not been assessed in patients with mild or moderate renal impairment.

Last reviewed on RxList: 5/20/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.


Gilenya - User Reviews

Gilenya User Reviews

Now you can gain knowledge and insight about a drug treatment with Patient Discussions.

Here is a collection of user reviews for the medication Gilenya sorted by most helpful. Patient Discussions FAQs

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Multiple Sclerosis

Get the latest treatment options.