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What does Gilenya do for multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Apr 28, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com
  • Gilenya blocks the movement of lymphocytes (a type of immune cell) from the lymph nodes into the bloodstream.
  • In multiple sclerosis, Gilenya is thought to prevent the movement of lymphocytes into the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).
  • This reduces inflammation in the nerves and subsequent damage.
  • Gilenya reduces the number of relapses of multiple sclerosis by about 50%.

Gilenya (fingolimod) is an immunosuppressant that may be used for the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults, and children and adolescents aged 10 years and older.

Gilenya is known as a disease-modifying drug and it reduces the number of relapses of multiple sclerosis (MS) by about half (50%). Any relapses that do happen should be less severe.

It takes approximately two weeks of dosing for Gilenya to reach its maximum effect, which is a lymphocyte count of 30% of baseline or around 500cells/mcL.

How does Gilenya work?

Gilenya works by blocking the migration of lymphocytes (a type of immune cell) from the lymph nodes into the bloodstream.

Although it is not exactly known how Gilenya exerts its effects in multiple sclerosis it may be due to a decrease in the migration of lymphocytes into the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

This reduces nerve inflammation and damage.

Gilenya will not cure MS, it will only decrease the frequency of relapse symptoms.

How long does it take Gilenya to work?

Research has shown a decrease in blood lymphocyte count to approximately 60% of baseline within four to six hours of the first dose of Gilenya.

With continued dosing, the lymphocyte count continued to decrease eventually reaching a low point (called the nadir count) of blood lymphocyte count that corresponded to 30% of baseline or 500 cells/mcL after two weeks. Some studies have reported nadir counts of <200 cells/mcL in patients on at least one occasion.

What are the common side effects of Gilenya?

Side effects of Gilenya occurring in more than 1% of people include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • An increase in blood triglycerides
  • An increased risk of basal cell carcinoma (2%) and skin papilloma (3%)
  • An increased risk of infections, such as the flu, sinusitis, bronchitis, herpes zoster, and tinea versicolor
  • Back pain or other pain
  • Blood disorders
  • Blurred vision
  • Bradycardia (a slow heart rate)
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver enzyme elevations
  • Migraine
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness.
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