Gilenya

If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), a healthcare provider may prescribe Gilenya. This medication is unlike many other MS medications, as it comes in the form of a capsule rather than an injection. It is thought that this medicine works by decreasing the number of lymphocytes in the body. Some of the possible side effects include headaches, diarrhea, and back pain.

What Is Gilenya?

Gilenya™ (fingolimod) is a prescription medication approved to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). Unlike most MS medications that are taken by injection, Gilenya is taken by mouth.
 
(Click Gilenya Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Who Makes This Medication?

This medication is made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
 

How Does Gilenya Work?

It is still unclear how exactly Gilenya works to treat MS. The drug is classified as a "sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator." It binds to certain receptors in the body and prevents lymphocytes from leaving the lymph nodes. This decreases the number of lymphocytes in the bloodstream. A lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell that plays an important role in the immune system.
 

Effects of Gilenya

Clinical studies have shown that Gilenya decreases the relapse rate in people with MS, compared to a placebo (a "sugar pill" that does not contain any active ingredients). Studies have also shown that Gilenya decreases new (or newly enlarged) brain lesions, as seen with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
 

When and How to Take It

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with this drug include the following:
 
  • This medication comes in capsule form. It is usually taken by mouth once a day.
     
  • This drug can be taken with or without food. Try taking it with food if it seems to bother your stomach.
     
  • The very first time you take this medicine, you will be in a medical facility where a healthcare provider can monitor you for at least six hours to make sure your heart rate is not dropping too low. In some cases, you may need to be monitored overnight.

 

  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed.
     
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD; Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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