What adverse effects are associated with the use of fingolimod (Gilenya), and what are the FDA recommendations for first-dose monitoring?

Updated: Oct 08, 2019
  • Author: Christopher Luzzio, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Fingolimod can be associated with macular edema, pulmonary dysfunction, and cardiac adverse effects.

In 2012, the FDA determined that new label changes are required for fingolimod. Within an hour of administering fingolimod, heart rate decreases are noted. The nadir in heart rate typically occurs at 6 hours, but it can be observed up to 24 hours after the first dose in some patients. Because of its cardiac adverse effects, the first dose of fingolimod should be administered in a setting in which resources are available to appropriately manage symptomatic bradycardia. Therefore, all patients started on fingolimod must be monitored for at least 6 hours following the first dose. Additionally, an ECG should be performed prior to dosing fingolimod, blood pressure and pulse should be monitored hourly, and an ECG should be performed at the end of the observation period.

Additional observation beyond 6 hours should be instituted if bradycardia occurs and until the finding has resolved in the following situations: the heart rate 6 hours post dose is less than 45 beats per minute, the heart rate 6 hours post dose is the lowest value observed post dose, or the ECG 6 hours post dose shows new-onset second-degree or higher (atrioventricular) AV block.

Should a patient require pharmacologic intervention for symptomatic bradycardia, continuous overnight ECG monitoring in a medical facility should be instituted, and the first dose monitoring strategy (described above) should be repeated after the second dose of fingolimod.

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