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Gilenya (fingolimod): Drug Safety Communication - Safety Review of a Reported Death After the First Dose

Audience: Neurology, Patients

[UPDATED 05/14/2012] FDA has completed its evaluation of a report of a patient who died after the first dose of multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya (fingolimod). The agency also has evaluated additional clinical trial and postmarket data for Gilenya, including reports of patients who died of cardiovascular events or unknown causes. FDA could not definitively conclude that Gilenya was related to any of the deaths. However, based on its reevaluation of the data, FDA remains concerned about the cardiovascular effects of Gilenya after the first dose.

Data show that, although the maximum heart rate lowering effect of Gilenya usually occurs within 6 hours of the first dose, the maximum effect may occur as late as 20 hours after the first dose in some patients. For this reason, Gilenya is now contraindicated (FDA advises against its use) in patients with certain pre-existing or recent (within last 6 months) heart conditions or stroke, or who are taking certain antiarrhythmic medications. In addition, FDA is now also recommending that the time of cardiovascular monitoring be extended past 6 hours in patients who are at higher risk for or who may not tolerate bradycardia. Extended monitoring should include continuous ECG monitoring that continues overnight.

Healthcare professionals are encouraged to review the updated drug label for Gilenya, and note specific FDA recommendations for monitoring patients and the new contraindications for use in certain patients.


[Posted 12/20/2011]

ISSUE: The FDA has received a report of a patient with multiple sclerosis (MS) who died within 24 hours of taking the first dose of Gilenya (fingolimod). At this time, FDA cannot conclude whether the drug resulted in the patient's death. FDA is continuing to evaluate the case and will communicate any new information that results from this investigation.

BACKGROUND: Gilenya (fingolimod) is an oral medication for the treatment of relapsing forms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in adults. Gilenya is used to reduce the frequency of flare-ups (clinical exacerbations) and delay physical disability. 

RECOMMENDATION: At this time, FDA continues to believe that Gilenya provides an important health benefit when used as directed and recommends that healthcare professionals who prescribe Gilenya follow the recommendations in the approved drug label.  Patients with MS should not stop taking Gilenya without talking to their healthcare professional.

FDA will communicate any new information on Gilenya and this case when it becomes available.

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

  • Complete and submit the report Online:
  • 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


[05/14/2012 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]
[04/2012 - Gilenya (fingolimod) Prescribing Information]

[12/20/2011 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]