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Neurology. 2018 May 15;90(20):e1815-e1821. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005529. Epub 2018 Apr 18.

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy after fingolimod treatment.

Author information

1
From the Department of Neurology (J.R.B.), Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Multiple Sclerosis Centre (B.A.C.), University of California, San Francisco; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (B.G.), Multiple Sclerosis Program, Dallas, TX; Department of Neurology (B.H.), Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich; Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy) (B.H.), Munich, Germany; Infectious Diseases Division (B.J.W.), Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (V.M.D.), East Hanover, NJ; and Novartis Pharma AG (M.M.), Basel, Switzerland. joseph.berger@uphs.upenn.edu.
2
From the Department of Neurology (J.R.B.), Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Multiple Sclerosis Centre (B.A.C.), University of California, San Francisco; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (B.G.), Multiple Sclerosis Program, Dallas, TX; Department of Neurology (B.H.), Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich; Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy) (B.H.), Munich, Germany; Infectious Diseases Division (B.J.W.), Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (V.M.D.), East Hanover, NJ; and Novartis Pharma AG (M.M.), Basel, Switzerland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We describe the characteristics of the 15 patients with fingolimod-associated progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) identified from the Novartis data safety base and provide risk estimates for the disorder.

METHODS:

The Novartis safety database was searched for PML cases with a data lock point of August 31, 2017. PML classification was based on previously published criteria. The risk and incidence were estimated using the 15 patients with confirmed PML and the overall population of patients treated with fingolimod.

RESULTS:

As of August 31, 2017, 15 fingolimod-treated patients had developed PML in the absence of natalizumab treatment in the preceding 6 months. Eleven (73%) were women and the mean age was 53 years (median: 53 years). Fourteen of the 15 patients were treated with fingolimod for >2 years. Two patients had confounding medical conditions. Two patients had natalizumab treatment. This included one patient whose last dose of natalizumab was 3 years and 9 months before the diagnosis of PML. The second patient was receiving fingolimod for 4 years and 6 months, which was discontinued to start natalizumab and was diagnosed with PML 3 months after starting natalizumab. Absolute lymphocyte counts were available for 14 of the 15 patients and none exhibited a sustained grade 4 lymphopenia (≤200 cells/μL).

CONCLUSIONS:

The risk of PML with fingolimod in the absence of prior natalizumab treatment is low. The estimated risk was 0.069 per 1,000 patients (95% confidence interval: 0.039-0.114), and the estimated incidence rate was 3.12 per 100,000 patient-years (95% confidence interval: 1.75-5.15). Neither clinical manifestations nor radiographic features suggested any unique features of fingolimod-associated PML.

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