Last week NOVARTIS Pharmaceutical Corporation sponsored a presentation for those of us with MS in Mat-Su Valley, Alaska. Dr. Pavle Repovic, spoke with us about the treatment mechanism of Gilenya and I understand it better than before.
Dr. Repovic spoke to us in lay terms explaining that Gilenya recognizes the T-cells in the immune system that will attack the myelin sheath and stops them from crossing the blood brain barrier to enter the central nervous system.
Like the other MS immunosuppressive medications, Gilenya doesn’t claim to cure MS, but to slow down the progression of the disease. Also Gilenya may cause serious side effects such as slow heart rate, especially after your first dose.
An ECG will be performed before and 6 hours after your first dose. Your pulse and blood pressure should be checked every hour while you stay in a medical facility during this time. If you are interested in trying Gilenya, talk to your health care professional.
Important Safety Information taken from the GILENYA packet:
Gilenya may cause serious side effects such as macular edema, a vision problem that can cause some of the vision symptoms as an MS attack (optic neuritis), or no symptoms. Macular edema usually start in the first 3 to 4 months after starting GILENYA.
Your doctor should test your vision before you start GILENYA; 3 to 4 months after you start GILENYA; and any time you notice vision changes. Vision problems may continue after macular edema has gone away. Your risk of macular edema may be higher if you have diabetes or have had an inflammation of you eye (uveitis). Call your doctor right away if you have blurriness, shadows, or a blind spot in the center of your vision; sensitivity to light; or unusually colored vision.
There are a number of FDA approved medications and more to be approved very soon. Learning about this disease and what treatments are available will empower us and as we work with our health care team we’ll make educated decisions for our treatment plan that will bring us hope for the future.