Fingolimod

(Date: July 2021. Version: 1)

This factsheet has been written for members of the public by the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS). UKTIS is a not-for-profit organisation funded by Public Health England on behalf of UK Health Departments. UKTIS has been providing scientific information to health care providers since 1983 on the effects that medicines, recreational drugs and chemicals may have on the developing baby during pregnancy.

What is it?

Fingolimod is a medicine used to treat the relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis (MS).

What are the advantages of using fingolimod in pregnancy?

Fingolimod reduces MS symptoms by stopping the immune system from attacking the nervous system.

Are there any risks of using fingolimod in pregnancy?

When fingolimod was first available and used during pregnancy, there were early reports of babies being born with birth defects. It is still unclear whether these birth defects were caused by the medication or not. More recent studies raise further concerns, although it is still not possible to be certain as the studies were small in size. For this reason, fingolimod is not generally recommended for use during pregnancy.

Are there any alternatives to using fingolimod in pregnancy?

Yes. Other medicines can be used to treat MS during pregnancy, although for some women these may not work as well as fingolimod.

You may find that your symptoms improve during pregnancy; if so, your specialist may advise that your medicine(s) can be altered or stopped. However, please do not change or stop your medication without speaking to your doctor.

If you are planning a pregnancy you should speak to your specialist to determine which medicine is best. This can be arranged through your GP or neurology clinic nurse.

If you become pregnant while taking fingolimod then you should be reviewed by your doctor as soon as possible.

What if I prefer not to use medicines to treat MS in pregnancy?

Your doctor will be happy to talk to you about any concerns that you might have. It is important that your MS is well treated during pregnancy in order to to avoid a flare-up of symptoms and to keep you healthy.

Will I or my baby need any extra monitoring?

All women in the UK are offered a detailed anomaly scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of routine antenatal care. No additional monitoring is required if you are using fingolimod in pregnancy, although you may be offered extra growth scans.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father takes fingolimod?

We would not expect any increased risk to your baby if the father takes fingolimod.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions about the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from www.uktis.org

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General information 

Up to 1 out of every 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, and 1 in 40 babies are born with a birth defect. These are referred to as the background population risks.  They describe the chance of these events happening for any pregnancy before taking factors such as the mother’s health during pregnancy, her lifestyle, medicines she takes and the genetic make up of her and the baby’s father into account.

Medicines use in pregnancy

Most medicines used by the mother will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Sometimes this may have beneficial effects for the baby.  There are, however, some medicines that can harm a baby’s normal development.  How a medicine affects a baby may depend on the stage of pregnancy when the medicine is taken. If you are on regular medication you should discuss these effects with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please ensure the doctor or health care professional treating you is aware of your pregnancy.

When deciding whether or not to use a medicine in pregnancy you need to weigh up how the medicine might improve your and/or your unborn baby’s health against any possible problems that the drug may cause. Our bumps leaflets are written to provide you with a summary of what is known about use of a specific medicine in pregnancy so that you can decide together with your health care provider what is best for you and your baby.   

Every pregnancy is unique. The decision to start, stop, continue or change a prescribed medicine before or during pregnancy should be made in consultation with your health care provider. It is very helpful if you can record all your medication taken in pregnancy in your hand held maternity records.

   

www.medicinesinpregnancy.org

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the individual care and advice of your health care provider. New information is continually becoming available. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure that this information is accurate and up to date at the time of publication, we cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes following decisions made on the basis of this information. We strongly advise that printouts should NOT be kept for any length of time, or for “future reference” as they can rapidly become out of date.

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