Gilenya (fingolimod) - Drug Safety Communication: Investigating Rare Brain Infection

August 29, 2013

Audience: Neurology, Pharmacy

ISSUE: FDA is alerting the public that a patient in Europe diagnosed with possible multiple sclerosis (MS) has developed a rare and serious brain infection after taking the drug Gilenya (fingolimod). This is the first case of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), reported following the administration of Gilenya to a patient who had not previously received Tysabri (natalizumab), an MS drug associated with a higher risk of PML.

BACKGROUND: PML is a rare and serious brain infection caused by the John Cunningham (JC) virus that damages the fatty covering of the brain called myelin. PML usually causes death or severe disability. Gilenya is used to treat relapsing forms of MS, a nervous system disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Novartis reports that approximately 71,000 patients worldwide have been treated with Gilenya.

RECOMMENDATION: Patients should not stop taking Gilenya without first discussing any questions or concerns with their health care professionals. FDA is providing this alert while continuing to investigate the PML case, and is working with Gilenya’s manufacturer, Novartis, to obtain and review all available information about this occurrence. FDA will communicate its final conclusions and recommendations after the evaluation is complete.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of this product to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

  • Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
  • Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

[08/29/2013 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]

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