Compare Gilenya vs. Avonex

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Gilenya
(Fingolimod)

Avonex
(Interferon Beta-1A)

Treats relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Gilenya (Fingolimod) is an oral medication that has a lot of side effects, but it reduces the number of flare-ups, slows physical changes, and decreases the number of new brain lesions in relapsing MS.Lowers the frequency of multiple sclerosis exacerbations. Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is an injectable medicine effective for relapsing, remitting MS and has manageable side effects and weekly dosing.
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Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4Gilenya
Reviews for Gilenya (Fingolimod)
42%
of people (All ages) say Gilenya (Fingolimod) is worth it
30%
say it works well
30%
say it's a big hassle
Have you used Gilenya (Fingolimod)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
38%
4% vs. Gilenya (Fingolimod)
25%
5% vs. Gilenya (Fingolimod)
34%
4% vs. Gilenya (Fingolimod)
Have you used Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
GilenyaAvonex
  • Alt/ast increased 9%
  • Diarrhea 5%
  • Back pain 5%
  • Ggt increased 4%
  • Bronchitis 4%
  • Migraine 4%
  • Vission blurred 3%
  • Abnormally slow heartbeat 3%
  • Influenza viral infections 3%
  • Tinea infections 3%
More Gilenya side effects »
  • Flu-like symptoms 20%
  • Chills 14%
  • Fever 11%
  • Muscle pain 7%
  • Muscle weakness 6%
  • Nausea 4%
  • Injuction site inflammation 4%
  • Low mood disorder 4%
  • Infection 3%
  • Chest pain 3%
More Avonex side effects »
How it works
GilenyaAvonex
Gilenya (Fingolimod) is an immune modulator. Researchers don't know exactly how it works, but it seems to stop your white blood cells from attacking the nerves in your brain and spinal cord.Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is an interferon that acts like the ones your body naturally makes. Researchers don't know exactly how it works, but interferons activate your immune system to control immune responses that have gotten out of control.
Type of medication
GilenyaAvonex
Multiple sclerosis treatment, Immunosuppressant
Immunomodulator
Prescription only
Multiple sclerosis treatment
Immunomodulator
Prescription only
Available as
GilenyaAvonex
  • Pill
  • Injection
Used for (click to learn more)
GilenyaAvonex
Risk factors for serious side effects
GilenyaAvonex
  • Taking with drugs that slow heart rate
  • History of heart problems
    • Taking other immunosuppressant drugs
    • Age 60 or older
    • Weak immune system
    • Diabetes
    • History of eye inflammation (uveitis)
    • Women of childbearing age
    • History of respiratory problems
    • History of liver problems
    Detailed Gilenya (Fingolimod) risks & warnings »
    • History of depression or mental illness
    • Allergy to albumin
    • Prolonged use of Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
    • Alcohol use
    • Taking drugs that are liver toxic
    • History of liver disease
      • History of heart disease
          • History of seizures
          • Women of childbearing age
            Detailed Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) risks & warnings »
            Pregnancy

            Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

            Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

            Interactions
            GilenyaAvonex
            No interactions related info.
            • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can cause flu-like symptoms (headache, fever, muscle pain) right after injections, lasting minutes or hours.
            • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. Watch for new or worsening depression or any unusual changes in mood or behavior, especially during the first few months of treatment or when the dose changes. Tell your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.
            • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) has been reported to cause hypersensitivity reactions (severe rash, trouble breathing) and angioedema (life-threatening condition with swelling with or without hives). Get emergency care right away.
            • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can cause serious liver injury with the risk increasing during the first 6 months after you start. You'll need to have your liver enzymes tested at 1, 3, and 6 months. If liver enzymes are significantly elevated and you have appetite/weight loss, stomach discomfort, vomiting, and notice dark urine, yellowing of skin/eyes, change in stool color, and skin rash, you should stop taking Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) until your doctor decides if it's safe to re-start.
            • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is not thought to cause adverse effects on the heart, but a small number of people with no history of heart problems developed heart failure and heart muscle weakness. Your doctor should watch you carefully especially when you start Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) then as long as you continue to take it.
            • Because Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) vial contains albumin, made from human blood, there’s an extremely low risk of transmitting a fatal brain disorder called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) or other viral disease. People who have allergies to albumin shouldn't use the vial formulation of Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A). The prefilled syringe doesn't contain albumin and may be a better choice for albumin-sensitive people. Make sure you talk to your doctor first.
            • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) hasn’t been studied in pregnant women, so the effects on your unborn baby are unknown. If you take it during pregnancy or breastfeed, it’s possible that some medicine may get into your baby’s blood. Talk to your doctor first and if you get pregnant while taking Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A), you'll need to enroll in the Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) pregnancy registry.
            • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can affect the bone marrow and lower your red and white blood cells and platelets to very low levels. When your blood cells and platelets levels drop too low, you are at more risk for infections, bleeding and bruising and will have to stop taking Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) until levels correct. You'll have to get your blood tested regularly at least every 6 months.
            Food
            GilenyaAvonex
            • Take one capsule daily with or without food.
            No food related info.
            Kidneys and liver
            GilenyaAvonex
            No kidneys and liver related info.
            • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can cause serious liver injury with the risk increasing during the first 6 months after you start. You'll need to have your liver enzymes tested at 1, 3, and 6 months. If liver enzymes are significantly elevated and you have appetite/weight loss, stomach discomfort, vomiting, and notice dark urine, yellowing of skin/eyes, change in stool color, and skin rash, you should stop taking Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) until your doctor decides if it's safe to re-start.
            Pain
            GilenyaAvonex
            No pain related info.
            • Flu-like reactions are the most common side effects and usually go away with continued treatment or can be avoided by using over-the-counter pain and fever-reducing medicines before the injection (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen).
            • Injection site reactions are common, ranging from localized pain, redness, and swelling to severe skin dryness.
            • Injection site reactions can be severe and include pain, redness, swelling, infection, and rarely, tissue death. In some cases, these reactions happened more than 2 years after starting Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A). They usually get better, but may need antibiotics or in severe cases, surgical treatment. It’s important that you follow instructions carefully and learn how to inject Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) correctly.
            Upsides and benefits
            GilenyaAvonex
            • Gilenya (Fingolimod) is the first once-daily pill you can take for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
            • Studies show it lowers relapse rates better than placebo and Avonex, and it delays the progression of physical disabilites better than placebo.
            • Gilenya also reduced the number of new MS lesions better than Avonex.
            • One of the main treatments for relapsing MS that has been around for many years.
            • Injections are given weekly, and not daily like other MS medications.
            • Helps reduce the frequency of MS relapse episodes.
            • Flu-like reactions are the most common side effects and usually go away with continued treatment or can be avoided by using over-the-counter pain and fever-reducing medicines before the injection (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen).
            Downsides and risks
            GilenyaAvonex
            • Taking more than the 0.5 mg dose won't give more benefits, but will only cause more side effects.
            • Gilenya can remain in your blood for up to 2 months after you stop taking it. Your immune response won't work as well during this time.
            • Not the best choice if you've had a heart attack, stroke, or have been in the hospital for heart failure in the past 6 months. The risk of serious heart rate effects is higher when taken with certain drugs (methadone, erythromycin, citalopram, ketoconazole) or if you have low potassium or magnesium.
            • If you have to re-start Gilenya after stopping it for 2 weeks or more, you'll have to take your first dose at your doctor's office again.
            • If you didn't get chicken pox and never had a vaccination, you'll need to be vaccinated and wait one month before starting Gilenya.
            • Injection site reactions are common, ranging from localized pain, redness, and swelling to severe skin dryness.
            • Flu-like symptoms are common after interferon injections.
            • It's not clear what type of problems occur if taken during pregnancy.
            • Blood testing is required before and during use of Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A).
            • May not be as effective as other interferons.
            Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
            GilenyaAvonex
            • Take one capsule daily with or without food.
            • It's very important you read the Gilenya Medication Guide. Don't change your dose or stop the medicine without asking your doctor.
            • You'll need to be watched for at least 6 hours in a doctor's office after taking your first dose because it can cause serious heart rate and blood pressure problems.
            • Gilenya increases your risk of infections. Get blood tests 6 months before starting treatment.
            • Use effective birth control or plan to stop Gilenya 2 months before getting pregnant. If you do become pregnant while on Gilenya (Fingolimod), you'll need to enroll in the Gilenya pregnancy registry.
            • Tell your doctor if you've had any vaccines recently. Don't get any live vaccines while taking Gilenya.
            • Your doctor will monitor your eyes, lungs, and liver for up to 2 months after stopping Gilenya.
            • Inject yourself once a week in your muscle (you need to go deeper than the fat layer between your skin and muscle).
            • Refrigerate the powder and pre-filled syringes and pens.
            • Don't shake the medicine once it is taken out of the refrigerator or mixed.
            • If using the pre-filled syringes, the tiny air bubbles won't hurt you.
            • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can cause flu-like symptoms (headache, fever, muscle pain) right after injections, lasting minutes or hours.
            • Flu-like reactions usually go away with repeated treatments. Taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen 45 minutes before the injection can reduce the uncomfortable feeling.
            Learn more
            More about GilenyaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
            Have you used Gilenya (Fingolimod)?
            Worth itNot sureNot worth it
            More about AvonexSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
            Have you used Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)?
            Worth itNot sureNot worth it