What is Gilenya?
Gilenya, a perplexing immunosuppressant drug, is prescribed to adult patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as children and adolescents aged 10 years and older. It functions by ensnaring immune cells in lymph nodes, preventing them from reaching the central nervous system, which encompasses the brain and spinal cord. Unfortunately, this drug does not offer a cure for MS, but it does minimize the frequency of relapse symptoms.
However, caution must be exercised as Gilenya should not be used if you have a serious heart condition, including severe heart failure, “AV block,” sick sinus syndrome (unless you have a pacemaker), taking certain heart rhythm medicines, or a recent heart attack, stroke, chest pain, or other serious heart problem. The drug may also lead to a slower heart rate, and the initial dosage must be monitored in a hospital setting where your heart rhythm can be evaluated.
Furthermore, Gilenya may affect your immune system, leading to an increased susceptibility to infections, even serious or life-threatening ones. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience fever, chills, aches, tiredness, vomiting, confusion, neck stiffness, increased sensitivity to light, or difficulties with speech, thought, vision, or muscle movement.
Prior to using this medicine, you should inform your doctor if you have never had chickenpox or if you have never received a varicella vaccine (Varivax). You may need to obtain the vaccine and wait one month before taking Gilenya. Also, notify your doctor if you have experienced an active or chronic infection, a heart rhythm disorder, chest pain (angina) or other heart problems, a heart attack or stroke, high or low blood pressure, fainting spells, diabetes, skin cancer, liver disease, an eye condition called uveitis, or asthma, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorder.
Using Gilenya may heighten your risk of developing skin cancer (melanoma). Please ask your doctor about skin symptoms to watch for. Pregnant women should also exercise caution when using Gilenya, as it may harm the unborn baby. Effective birth control should be used to prevent pregnancy while using this medicine, and for at least two months after the final dose. If you become pregnant during this period, inform your doctor. Your name may be added to a pregnancy registry to track the effects of fingolimod on the baby.
Taking Gilenya requires adherence to precise guidelines. Take it exactly as directed by your doctor, read all medication guides or instruction sheets, and follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor will perform medical tests to ensure that you do not have any conditions that would prevent you from safely using Gilenya. The first dose of Gilenya will be given in a hospital setting because fingolimod may slow your heart rate. You may take Gilenya with or without food.
It is important to note that if you stop taking Gilenya, you should not start taking it again without first consulting your doctor. You must be under medical observation when restarting this medication. Also, be sure to consult your doctor before discontinuing Gilenya for any reason. When you stop taking this medicine, your MS symptoms may return, and in rare cases, some individuals who stopped taking fingolimod experienced MS symptoms that were worse than before or during treatment with this medicine. Finally, if you stop taking Gilenya, be vigilant for signs of worsening MS for at least 12 weeks after your final dose. Call your doctor immediately if any new or worsening symptoms appear.