Oral fingolimod for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis


  • Disclosures BS has received speaking and consulting honoraria from Bayer, Biogen Idec, EMD Serono, Novartis, Pfizer and TEVA Pharmaceuticals. APR has received consultancy honoraria from Novartis, EMD Serono, Pfizer, TEVA Pharmaceuticals, Bayer Healthcare, Genzyme, and Acorda. KT is an employee of the sponsor (Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation) and has equity or ownership interest.

Barry Singer, The MS Center for Innovations in Care, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, 3009 N Ballas Rd, Suite 207B, St Louis, MO 63131, USA Tel.: +1 314 872 7333 Fax: +1 314 989 0235 Email: bnvsinger@earthlink.net


Fingolimod, a sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator, is the first oral treatment approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). The aim of this review was to provide a concise, comprehensive overview of the clinically relevant mechanism of action, efficacy and safety information available for fingolimod. Key data were derived from two international, Phase III, double-blind, randomised trials (TRANSFORMS and FREEDOMS) performed over 12 and 24 months, respectively, which evaluated fingolimod 0.5 and 1.25 mg daily in 1703 patients with relapsing forms of MS. In TRANSFORMS, there was a 52% reduction in the annualised relapse rate (ARR) with fingolimod 0.5 mg vs. 30 μg intramuscular interferon beta-1a (0.16 vs. 0.33; p < 0.001) at 1 year. In FREEDOMS, there was a 55% decrease in ARR at 2 years with fingolimod 0.5 mg vs. placebo (0.18 vs. 0.40; p < 0.001). Risk of disability progression, confirmed at 3 months, was also reduced by 30% over the 2-year study period with fingolimod vs. placebo (p = 0.02). Significantly fewer new or enlarged lesions on T2-weighted images were seen in both studies (TRANSFORMS, p = 0.002 vs. interferon beta-1a at 1 year; FREEDOMS, p < 0.001 vs. placebo at 2 years). Overall, fingolimod 0.5 mg was well tolerated by patients. Transient, generally asymptomatic bradycardia and infrequent atrioventricular block were seen with the administration of the first dose. Macular oedema and serious infections occurred infrequently. Reversible, asymptomatic elevations of liver enzymes could also occur. As the first approved oral disease-modifying treatment, fingolimod offers patients a convenient alternative to regular self-injection for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS. In addition to high efficacy with a relatively acceptable safety profile, fingolimod provides a therapy with a new mechanism of action.