"Oct. 5, 2011 -- People with multiple sclerosis (MS) may soon have a second needle-free option to control their disease.
Last year, the FDA approved the first disease-modifying pill, a drug called Gilenya, to treat MS.
Bradyarrhythmia And Atrioventricular Blocks
Reduction in Heart Rate
After the first dose of GILENYA, the heart rate decrease starts within an hour. On Day 1, the maximum decline in heart rate generally occurs within 6 hours and recovers, although not to baseline levels, by 8 to 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. In controlled clinical trials, adverse reactions of symptomatic bradycardia following the first dose were reported in 0.6% of patients receiving GILENYA 0.5 mg and in 0.1% of patients on placebo. Patients who experienced bradycardia were generally asymptomatic, but some patients experienced hypotension, dizziness, fatigue, palpitations, and/or 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.
Initiation of GILENYA treatment has resulted in transient AV conduction delays. In controlled clinical trials, first-degree AV block after the first dose occurred in 4.7% of patients receiving GILENYA and 1.6% of patients on placebo. In a study of 697 patients with available 24-hour Holter monitoring data after their first dose (N=351 receiving GILENYA and N=346 on placebo), second-degree AV blocks (Mobitz Types I [Wenckebach] or 2:1 AV blocks) occurred in 4% (N=14) of patients receiving GILENYA and 2% (N=7) of patients on placebo. Of the 14 patients receiving GILENYA, 7 patients had 2:1 AV block (5 patients within the first 6 hours postdose and 2 patients after 6 hours postdose). All second degree AV blocks on placebo were Mobitz Type I and occurred after the first 12 hours postdose. 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.
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 or after discontinuation of prior therapy) 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.
In MS placebo-controlled trials, the overall rate of infections (72%) with GILENYA was similar to placebo. However, bronchitis, herpes zoster, influenza, sinusitis, and pneumonia were more common in GILENYA-treated patients. Serious infections occurred at a rate of 2.3% in the GILENYA group versus 1.6% in the placebo group.
In the postmarketing setting, serious infections with opportunistic pathogens including viruses (e.g., John Cunningham virus (JCV), herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2, varicella-zoster virus), fungi (e.g., cryptococci), and bacteria (e.g., atypical mycobacteria) have been reported with GILENYA. Patients with symptoms and signs consistent with any of these infections should undergo prompt diagnostic evaluation and appropriate treatment.
Herpes Viral Infections
In placebo-controlled trials, the rate of herpetic infections was 9% in patients receiving GILENYA 0.5 mg and 7% on placebo.
Two patients died of herpetic infections during controlled trials. One death was due to disseminated primary herpes zoster and the other to herpes simplex encephalitis. In both cases, the patients were taking a 1.25 mg dose of fingolimod (higher than the recommended 0.5 mg dose) and had received high-dose corticosteroid therapy to treat suspected MS relapses.
Serious, life-threatening events of disseminated varicella zoster and herpes simplex infections, including cases of encephalitis and multiorgan failure, have occurred with GILENYA in the postmarketing setting. One of these events was fatal. Include disseminated herpetic infections in the differential diagnosis of patients who are receiving GILENYA and present with an atypical MS relapse or multiorgan failure.
Cases of Kaposi's sarcoma have been reported in the postmarketing setting. Kaposi's sarcoma is an angioproliferative disorder that is associated with infection with human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8). Patients with symptoms or signs consistent with Kaposi's sarcoma should be referred for prompt diagnostic evaluation and management.
Cryptococcal infections, including cases of cryptococcal meningitis and disseminated cryptococcal infections, have been reported with GILENYA in the postmarketing setting. Cryptococcal infections have generally occurred after approximately 2 years of GILENYA treatment, but may occur earlier. The relationship between the risk of cryptococcal infection and the duration of treatment is unknown. Patients with symptoms and signs consistent with a cryptococcal infection should undergo prompt diagnostic evaluation and treatment.
Prior and Concomitant Treatment with Antineoplastic, Immunosuppressive, or Immune-Modulating Therapies
In clinical studies, patients who received GILENYA did not receive concomitant treatment with antineoplastic, noncorticosteroid immunosuppressive, or immune-modulating therapies used for treatment of MS. Concomitant use of GILENYA with any of these therapies, and also with corticosteroids, would be expected to increase the risk of immunosuppression [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
When switching to GILENYA from immune-modulating or immunosuppressive medications, consider the duration of their effects and their mode of action to avoid unintended additive immunosuppressive effects.
Varicella Zoster Virus Antibody Testing/Vaccination
Patients without a healthcare professional confirmed history of chickenpox or without documentation of a full course of vaccination against varicella zoster virus (VZV) should be tested for antibodies to VZV before initiating GILENYA. VZV vaccination of antibody-negative patients is recommended 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.
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy
Cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) have occurred in patients with MS who received GILENYA in the postmarketing setting. PML is an opportunistic viral infection of the brain caused by the JC virus (JCV) that typically only occurs in patients who are immunocompromised, and that usually leads to death or severe disability. PML has occurred in patients who had not been treated previously with natalizumab, which has a known association with PML, and who were also not taking any immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory medications concomitantly. The patients had no other ongoing identified systemic medical conditions resulting in compromised immune system function, although one patient had a history of cancer treated with chemotherapy several years prior to taking Gilenya. The cases have occurred in patients treated with GILENYA for at least 2 years. The relationship between the risk of PML and the duration of treatment is unknown.
At the first sign or symptom suggestive of PML, withhold GILENYA and perform an appropriate diagnostic evaluation. MRI findings may be apparent before clinical signs or symptoms. Typical symptoms associated with PML are diverse, progress over days to weeks, and include progressive weakness on one side of the body or clumsiness of limbs, disturbance of vision, and changes in thinking, memory, and orientation leading to confusion and personality changes.
Fingolimod increases the risk of macular edema. Perform an examination of the fundus including the macula in all patients before starting treatment, again 3–4 months after starting treatment, and again at any time after a patient reports visual disturbances while on GILENYA therapy.
A dose-dependent increase in the risk of macular edema occurred in the GILENYA clinical development program.
In 2-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in patients with multiple sclerosis, macular edema with or without visual symptoms occurred in 1.5% of patients (11/799) treated with fingolimod 1.25 mg, 0.5% of patients (4/783) treated with GILENYA 0.5 mg and 0.4% of patients (3/773) treated with placebo. Macular edema occurred predominantly during the first 3 to 4 months of therapy. These clinical trials excluded patients with diabetes mellitus, a known risk factor for macular edema (see below Macular Edema in Patients with History of Uveitis or Diabetes Mellitus). Symptoms of macular edema included blurred vision and decreased visual acuity. Routine ophthalmological examination detected macular edema in some patients with no visual symptoms. Macular edema generally partially or completely resolved with or without treatment after drug discontinuation. Some patients had residual visual acuity loss even after resolution of macular edema. Macular edema has also been reported in patients taking GILENYA in the postmarketing setting, usually within the first 6 months of treatment.
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. In the combined clinical trial experience with all doses of fingolimod, the rate of macular edema was approximately 20% in MS patients with a history of uveitis versus 0.6% in those without a history of uveitis. GILENYA has not been tested in MS patients with diabetes mellitus. In addition to the examination of the fundus including the macula prior to treatment and at 3–4 months after starting treatment, MS patients with diabetes mellitus or a history of uveitis should have regular follow-up examinations.
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.
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. In 2year placebo-controlled trials, the reduction from baseline in the percent of predicted values for FEV1 at the time of last assessment on drug was 2.8% for GILENYA 0.5 mg and 1.0% for placebo. For DLCO, the reduction from baseline in percent of predicted values at the time of last assessment on drug was 3.3% for GILENYA 0.5 mg and 0.5% 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 placebo-controlled trials, dyspnea was reported in 9% of patients receiving GILENYA 0.5 mg and 7% 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.
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.
In 2-year placebo-controlled clinical trials, elevation of liver transaminases to 3-fold the upper limit of normal (ULN) or greater occurred in 14% of patients treated with GILENYA 0.5 mg and 3% of patients on placebo. Elevations 5-fold the ULN or greater occurred in 4.5% of patients on GILENYA and 1% of patients on placebo. The majority of elevations occurred within 6 to 9 months. In clinical trials, GILENYA was discontinued if the elevation exceeded 5 times the ULN. Serum transaminase levels returned to normal within approximately 2 months after discontinuation of GILENYA. Recurrence of liver transaminase elevations occurred with rechallenge in some patients.
Cases of liver injury with hepatocellular and/or cholestatic hepatitis have been reported with GILENYA in the postmarketing setting.
Liver enzymes and bilirubin 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].
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.
Increased Blood Pressure
In MS controlled 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.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is associated with use of GILENYA. In two-year placebo-controlled trials the incidence of BCC was 2% in patients on GILENYA 0.5 mg and 1% in patients on placebo [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Providers and patients are advised to monitor for suspicious skin lesions. If a suspicious skin lesion is observed, it should be promptly evaluated.
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].
Hypersensitivity reactions, including rash, urticaria, and angioedema have been reported with GILENYA in the postmarketing setting. GILENYA is contraindicated in patients with history of hypersensitivity to fingolimod or any of its excipients [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
Patient Counseling Information
Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide).
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.
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. Recommend to patients that they delay treatment with GILENYA until after VZV vaccination if they have not had chickenpox or a previous VZV vaccination. Inform patients that prior or concomitant use of drugs that suppress the immune system may increase the risk of infection.
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy
Inform patients that a case of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and a case of probable PML have occurred in patients who received GILENYA. Inform the patient that PML is characterized by a progression of deficits and usually leads to death or severe disability over weeks or months. Instruct the patient of the importance of contacting their doctor if they develop any symptoms suggestive of PML. Inform the patient that typical symptoms associated with PML are diverse, progress over days to weeks, and include progressive weakness on one side of the body or clumsiness of limbs, disturbance of vision, and changes in thinking, memory, and orientation leading to confusion and personality changes [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
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.
Advise patients that they should contact their physician if they experience new onset or worsening of dyspnea.
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.
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.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Advise patients that basal cell carcinoma is associated with use of GILENYA. Advise patients that suspicious skin lesions should be promptly evaluated.
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.
Advise patients that GILENYA may cause hypersensitivity reactions including rash, urticaria, and angioedema. Advise patients to contact their physician if they have any symptoms associated with hypersensitivity.
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.
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 Quintiles at 1-877-598-7237, sending an email to email@example.com or visiting www.gilenyapregnancyregistry.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 3/3/2016
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