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Gilenya shows significant early effect on reducing brain volume loss


New data will be presented at the 28th congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) that reinforce the generally early and sustained efficacy benefit and long-term safety profile for Gilenya® (fingolimod), the first once-daily oral therapy approved to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).[1,2]
“As the first once-daily oral MS therapy, growing real-world experience reinforces Gilenya’s high efficacy and long-term safety profile,” said David Epstein, Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division of Novartis Pharma AG. “With data showing an early treatment effect on relapses and brain volume loss, Gilenya continues to show positive outcomes for patients and Novartis remains committed to addressing the significant remaining unmet medical need in the MS community.”
Analysis shows significant early treatment effect with Gilenya
A new post hoc analysis of two large Phase III studies shows treatment with Gilenya 0.5 mg led to significant benefits on relapse-related outcomes within the first three months and on brain volume loss by six months compared to placebo.[1]
There was a significant (p<0.05) Gilenya treatment effect on time to first confirmed relapse within three months in both the pivotal FREEDOMS study (n=1272), and FREEDOMS II, the second large Phase III placebo-controlled study (n=1083). The differences between Gilenya and placebo became persistently significant by Day 82 in FREEDOMS and Day 64 in FREEDOMS II, respectively.[1]
Furthermore, in the FREEDOMS study, patients-treated with Gilenya 0.5mg had on average a 35% reduction in brain volume loss compared with placebo at the first MRI evaluation after six months of treatment (mean percent brain volume change of -0.22 for Gilenya versus -0.34 for placebo; p=0.006). In FREEDOMS II, there was a 39% reduction in brain volume loss (mean percent volume change of – 0.23 for Gilenya versus – 0.38 for placebo; p=0.012) at six months.[1]
“Understanding the onset of efficacy is an important consideration in the treatment of MS as early effective treatment may improve patient outcomes,” said Professor Ludwig Kappos, MD, Chair of Neurology, University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland. “The new analysis of Phase III data shows a significant early effect of Gilenya on relapses and MRI measures, and further supports its role as a valuable treatment option for relapsing-remitting MS.”
New data published on real-world experience and patient adherence
First results from the PANGAEA observational study in Germany indicate that 90% of investigators and 91% of patients rated Gilenya treatment success, defined as efficacy and tolerability, as ‘Good’ or ‘Very Good’.[2] PANGAEA is a German registry study aimed to enrol a total of 4,000 patients with a follow-up of five years designed to investigate the efficacy and safety of Gilenya in everyday clinical practice. As of May 2012, one year after initiation of the registry, more than 1,850 patients were enrolled in 475 participating centres. These results also showed an overall safety profile in line with previously reported data.[2]
In addition, a separate analysis of time to discontinuation of therapy among MS patients receiving Gilenya and other disease modifying treatments (DMTs) using pharmacy claims in the US (n=1891) show Gilenya-treated patients were significantly less likely to discontinue treatment over the 12 month observation period (Gilenya: 27.8%, other DMT cohorts: 42.7-54.5%; p<0.01) and discontinued later than patients using injectable DMTs.[3]
Results from more than 3,500 patients further characterise long-term safety profile
A new integrated analysis of safety data from Phase II, Phase III and study extensions for fingolimod (all doses, n=3553) show a safety profile generally consistent with previous results. The total fingolimod exposure was 9,070 patient years, with 1,510 patients treated for more than three years and some for more than seven years.[4]
As of August 2012, more than 49,000 patients have been treated with fingolimod in clinical trials and in the post-marketing setting, and there is approximately 52,000 patient years of exposure.[5]
About Gilenya
Gilenya, licensed from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, is the first in a new class of compounds called sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor (S1PR) modulators. It has demonstrated superior efficacy compared to Avonex*, a commonly prescribed treatment, showing a 52% relative reduction in annualised relapse rate (primary endpoint) and a 40% relative reduction in the rate of brain atrophy (secondary endpoint) at one year in a pivotal head-to-head trial in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.[6] In a recent post hoc sub-group analysis, Gilenya showed a 61% relative reduction in annualised relapse rate compared to interferon-beta-1a (IM) at one year in subgroups of patients with highly active relapsing-remitting MS not responding to interferon treatment.[7]
Gilenya is a generally highly effective once-daily oral MS treatment. In clinical trials it was generally well tolerated with a manageable safety profile, and there is increasing experience of Gilenya’s long-term effectiveness and safety profile, with approximately 49,000 patients having been treated in clinical trials and in a post-marketing setting.[7] Currently, there is approximately 52,000 patient years of exposure.[5]
In clinical trials, the most common side effects were headache, liver enzyme elevations, influenza, diarrhoea, back pain, and cough. Other Gilenya-related side effects included transient, generally asymptomatic, heart rate reduction and atrioventricular block upon treatment initiation, mild blood pressure increase, macular edoema, and mild broncho-constriction[6,8].
The rates of infections overall, including serious infections, were comparable among treatment groups, although a slight increase in lower respiratory tract infections (primarily bronchitis) was seen in patients treated with Gilenya. The number of malignancies reported across the clinical trial program was small, with comparable rates between the Gilenya and control groups.[6,8]
  1. Chin P.S. et al. Early effect of fingolimod on clinical and MRI related outcomes in relapsing multiple sclerosis. Abstract Presented at ECTRIMS, Lyon, France, October 2012.
  2. Ziemssen T. et al. Study design and first interim results of a registry study to establish long-term safety and pharmaco-economic data on fingolimod (Gilenya®) in multiple sclerosis patients in Germany (PANGAEA). Abstract Presented at ECTRIMS, Lyon, France, October 2012
  3. Neetu A. et al. Comparison of Time to Discontinuation Among Multiple Sclerosis Patients Receiving Fingolimod and Other First-Line Disease Modifying Treatments. Abstract Presented at ECTRIMS, Lyon, France, October 2012.
  4. Cohen J. et al. Long-term safety of fingolimod in relapsing multiple sclerosis: update to integrated analyses of phase 2 and 3 studies and extension phases. Abstract Presented at ECTRIMS, Lyon, France, October 2012.
  5. Novartis data on file.
  6. Cohen J. et al. Oral Fingolimod vs. Intramuscular Interferon in Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. N Eng J Med. Vol.362 No.5, Feb 4, 2010;362:402-415.
  7. Havrdová E. et al. Clinical outcomes in subgroups of patients with highly action relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis treated with Fingolimod (FTY720): Results from the FREEDOMS and TRANSFORMS phase III studies. Poster presented at ECTRIMS, Amsterdam, October 2011.
  8. Kappos L, et al. Placebo-Controlled Study of Oral Fingolimod in Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. N Eng J Med. Vol.362 No.5, Feb 4, 2010; 362:387-401.
* Avonex® is a registered trademark of Biogen Idec.

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