Gilenya is a drug that is known as ‘disease-modifying therapy’. It is prescribed for remitting and relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) and is given to adults and children above the age of 10. MS is a disorder of the nerves wherein chronic inflammation destroys the sheath that surrounds nerve cells. Gilenya contains an active substance called fingolimod. This medication is often used in conjunction with other medical therapies.
Gilenya can be used after being prescribed by a doctor. It comes in the form of capsules. Usually, 0.25 mg of the drug is prescribed to children, and 0.5 mg of the drug is prescribed to adults as per the body weight of an individual. Gilenya tends to decrease the heart rate and affect the electrical activity of the heart. Thus, the blood pressure and heart activity of a patient are checked before prescribing the medication.
The most common side effects of Gilenya are headaches, cough, cold, sinusitis, backache and increased liver enzyme levels. Heart rhythm disorders and macular oedema are serious side effects of Gilenya. People who are taking this medication for the first time need to be careful, especially if they have a weakened immune system, cancer or suffer from a chronic heart ailment. The medication is not recommended for pregnant women.
1. Does Gilenya need to be refrigerated?
Gilenya does not require refrigeration. It can be easily stored in a cool, dry place that has a temperature of 68 °F to 77°F. However, it must be kept in a place that is out of reach of children. Once used, patients taking the drug for the first time are required to be closely monitored for a certain period.
2. Is Gilenya an immunosuppressant?
Gilenya is an immunosuppressant that is used for the treatment of MS, especially relapsing MS. It is prescribed to children above the age of 10 years and adults. Because Gilenya suppresses the immune system, it greatly diminishes a person’s ability to fight infection.
3. Is Gilenya a high-risk medication?
Depending on the medical history of a patient, Gilenya as a drug is usually well-tolerated. One of the common side-effects of this drug is macular oedema. This often leads to blurred vision. While this rarely occurs, it can happen in patients within the first three months of starting the medication.
4. Does Gilenya cause liver damage?
Gilenya may cause liver damage. Patients should have their blood tests done and check their liver function before they start to take Gilenya periodically during treatment. Chronic use of Gilenya has led to severe liver injury in some patients. These are indicated by increased serum hepatic enzymes and total bilirubin.
5. Does Gilenya make your hair fall out?
Hair loss is also a common side effect of the continuous intake of Gilenya. Approximately 3% of the patients with MS reported hair loss after taking Gilenya. This was compared with a mere 2% of the patients who only took a placebo. Patients concerned about hair loss should definitely talk to their doctors and switch over to an alternative medication.
6. Can Gilenya cause heart problems?
Some of the side effects of taking Gilenya are associated with heart problems such as bradycardia which causes the heart rate to slow down considerably, especially after a patient takes their first dose. In such cases, careful monitoring may be required on a regular and continuous basis, especially if the patient has a history of heart problems.
7. Can Gilenya cause weight gain?
Normally, taking Gilenya does not affect your weight. Weight loss or weight gain is usually not reported as a side effect in trials conducted on this drug. Changes in weight may be reported in patients suffering from MS because of other conditions and not necessarily as a direct fallout of taking the drug.
8. Can Gilenya cause blindness?
Macular oedema is a common fallout of taking Gilenya where fluid builds up in the macula which is a part of the retina. If left untreated, it can lead to partial blindness or vision losses. Some of the symptoms include blurry vision, night spots and seeing unusual colours. Other conditions may cause aching pain during eye movement and blurred vision.
9. Can Gilenya cause high cholesterol?
Treatment with Gilenya may result in increased levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides. Patients with an underlying heart condition need to be monitored constantly, and very high levels may need to be regulated with the help of medications.
10. Does Gilenya cause nausea?
Nausea and diarrhoea can be immediate side effects of Gilenya. In severe cases, the condition can be controlled with the help of home remedies and medications. Persistent nausea can be unpleasant and may require immediate medical intervention or hospitalisation.
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