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Gilenya (Fingolimod) Approved for Treating Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
by admin on: June 22nd, 2011

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease where the body???s immune system attacks the nerve cells and destroys the protective sheath (myelin sheath) that surrounds the nerve processes. This disease can be very debilitating because the protective sheaths aid the communication between the brain and the rest of a person???s body.

The symptoms a person with MS present with will vary as they’re dependent upon the particular nerves that are affected. In fact, some patients report relatively minor symptoms such as numbness in the limbs. Other patients report more serious effects such as loss of vision or paralysis. Estimates suggest that there are approximately 2.1 million people in the world that have MS (about 400,000 people in the U.S.).

After reviewing the data for gilenya (fingolimod), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this capsule as a pharmaceutical agent for the treatment of symptoms associated with MS in September 2010. The data from clinical studies has shown that gilenya therapy can reduce relapses as well as delay the progression of disability in patients diagnosed with relapsing forms of MS.

Since gilenya is formulated as a capsule, this therapy offers patients an alternative method for administrating drugs; similar drugs for treating symptoms of MS are administered by injection. The proposed mechanism of action suggests that gilenya is able to block a portion of the blood cells originating in the lymph nodes from migrating to either the brain or spinal cord. By reducing the migration of cells that effectively damage the protective sheaths surrounding the nerve cells, gilenya is thought to reduce the progression and severity of MS.

While the effects of gilenya have been mostly positive, physicians should monitor patients, as gilenya may also increase the risk of infection or problems in the eye (macular edema). Other adverse effects reported with gilenya use include back pain, cough diarrhea, headache, and increased levels of certain enzymes.

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