Oral MS Drug Gilenya User Develops Rare Brain Disease

Swiss drug maker Novartis AG has reported that an MS patient treated with oral MS pill Gilenya has been diagnosed with a rare but highly fatal brain disease. According to the Swiss drug maker, the patient developed progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy or PML, which is a rare but fatal form of brain disease. But in addition, they also said that the said patient, whose identity hasn’t been disclosed, has also been previously treated with another MS drug, Tysabri. The said drug has been associated with PML cases in the past.

Novartis stated, “The current assessment is that Tysabri is the drug most likely associated with this case of PML. However, a contribution of Gilenya to the evolution of this case can’t be excluded.” This recent development has come at a very critical time when the safety profile of the said drug has been put into question after a death of one person in the US has been reported last autumn just within 24 hours after starting Gilenya treatment.

Gilenya is considered as the only oral MS treatment available in the market. This makes it quite a convenient form of treatment for MS patients who have been struggling with the said disease. But the recent findings may put it into questionable status as a safe treatment for MS. Gilenya, also known as fingolimod, may not solely be blamed for the development of the rare brain disease as those who use the oral MS drug has also been previously using Tysabri. The scientists are looking into whether this may be becoming a trend as results of other upcoming cases may be determined in the next coming weeks. Gilenya has already been approved for use as an MS treatment in more than 55 countries.

Source: Wall Street Journal

 
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