Aug 24, 2012

By Jane Brown

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A drug manufacturer has issued new safety recommendations for a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis due to serious heart-related side-effects.

Novartis says its drug Gilenya causes heart rates to slow down in the first hours after ingestion, but it returns to normal after about a month of treatment.

In Canada, a number of people have reported heart-related side-effects, but no deaths have been definitively attributed to the drug.

The company says patients starting or resuming treatment with Gilenya are now required to have an electrocardiogram before starting the drug and six hours after taking the first dose.

Patients must also stay at the clinic or doctor’s office for at least six hours after taking the initial pill to have hourly heart-rate and blood-pressure checks.

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