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Multiple Sclerosis (cont.)

Multiple Slcerosis Treatment Medications

Patient Comments

There are several treatment options for multiple sclerosis. The following is a brief summary of the drugs approved by the FDA to treat multiple sclerosis. For more information, consult your health-care professional.

Interferons and Side Effects

Substances called interferons are immunomodulatory (meaning they affect the action of the immune system) drugs that have been approved to treat multiple sclerosis. Interferons are also made by the body, mainly to combat viral infections. Interferons have been shown to decrease relapses by about one-third (if compared to patients receiving placebo) and delay progression of the disease. Common side effects include flu-like symptoms (which tend to disappear with time), injection site reactions (which can be minimized with analgesics, rotation of injection sites, and local measures to prepare the skin prior to injection). Interferons include:

Copaxone, Tysabri, Gilenya, and Aubagio

  • Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) is a mixture of amino acids used to treat multiple sclerosis. Glatiramer acetate has been shown to decrease the relapse rates of multiple sclerosis by about one-third (if compared to patients receiving placebo) and appears to also have an effect on the overall progression of multiple sclerosis. Common side effects with Glatiramer acetate include a sensation of chest tightening following the injection, and injection site reactions which may include rare skin lesions referred to as lipoatrophy. Copaxone is given every day as an injection below the skin.
  • Natalizumab (Tysabri) is a monoclonal antibody that binds to white blood cells and interferes with their movement from the bloodstream into the brain and spinal cord. White blood cells are thought to play a role in causing the nervous system damage in multiple sclerosis. Tysabri decreases relapses by about two- thirds (if compared to patients receiving placebo) and reduces the accumulation of disability, but carries a warning for increasing the risk of progressive multifocal encephalopathy (PML), a potentially fatal brain infection. Because of this risk, Tysabri can only be given to patients that have registered for treatment under a controlled drug distribution program.
  • Fingolimod (Gilenya) is a daily oral medication to treat MS that was approved by the U.S. FDA in 2010 as the first oral medication to treat MS. Although the exact mechanism of action of fingolimod is unclear, it appears to work by reducing the number of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell that is important for immunity and the inflammation process) in the blood. Like many injectable therapies for MS, the long-term safety of fingolimod is unknown. The most common side effects of fingolimod are headache, flu, diarrhea, back pain, elevations of liver enzymes in the blood, and cough. Other side effects are also possible including eye problems, so those taking this drug should have regular ophthalmologic evaluations.
  • Teriflunomide (Aubagio) is another newer oral medication for MS. This medication works by inhibiting dihydroorotate dehydrogenase, a mitochondrial enzyme involved in pyrimidine synthesis. Its side effects can include reduced white blood cell counts and liver problems. It is recommended that those taking this drug receive regular blood tests after beginning the medication.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2017

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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Multiple Sclerosis (Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis & Causes):

Multiple Sclerosis - Causes

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Multiple Sclerosis - Diagnosis

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS).

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