Multiple sclerosis, also referred to as MS, is a debilitating disease that can cripple the body in numerous ways, but with proper medication, it can be controlled. Patients with Multiple sclerosis have seen a rise in several encouraging treatment options in recent years.
Because MS attacks the brain and central nervous system by turning the immune system against it, treatment involves slowing down the progression of the disease by delaying or preventing further damage to the nerves. With Multiple Sclerosis, patients experience flare ups of symptoms that can include weakness, numbness, loss of muscle coordination, and issues with bladder control, vision, and speech. While often MS is treated with painful injections that may be needed to be administered multiple times in a single week, this is not the only option. Thanks to an array of effective MS medications, patients with MS can elect to take pills that work just as well, if not better, in preventing relapses or the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. These pills include Tysabri, Ampyra, Aubagio, and Ocrevus. If you are currently suffering from MS and seeking new treatment, these top MS treatments may be able to help you as they have already helped so many others. Read on to learn more about these leading MS treatments.
Tysabri is a disease-modifying agent used in the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis. Available in genric form as natalizumab, Tysabri – formerly known as Antegren – is an immunomodulator that slows the spread of harmful white blood cells into the brain and spinal cord, which helps to halt the progression of MS. In addition, Tysabri helps to reduce the severity of MS symptoms while also reducing the frequency of flare-ups associated with relapsing MS. This medication is not intended for people under the age of 18. Common side effects of Tysabri are mostly mild and include headaches, fatigue, diarrhea, rash, joint pain, stomach pain and more. Patients who use Tysabri are more at risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML, a rare brain infection that can be deadly if not properly treated. Due to this complication, everyone taking this medication is required to register with the drug company and participate in routine follow-ups to ensure safety. Due to this risk, this medication is recommended for patients who have tried other MS treatments that haven’t been effective.
Ampyra, another medication taken as a pill, can help MS patients who struggle to walk. Available in its generic form as dalfampridine, Patients who have Multiple Sclerosis lose myelin, which is the protective coating around the nerves, that helps electrical signals move around the body. Ampyra helps the electrical signals get from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles. This medication block the potassium channels on the surfaces of nerve fibers, which can lead to improvement in the ways that nerves send and receive signals. Recent studies show that Ampyra increases the walking speed and better muscle strength in patients with multiple sclerosis, demonstrating improvement in nerve function. Combined with other multiple sclerosis medications, Ampyra may help slow the progression of MS while helping patients manage their symptoms. Because MS symptoms and conditions vary from person to person, it can be difficult for patients to find the right treatment options. What works well for one patient may not work for another, which makes further research and development into multiple sclerosis medications more important than ever before.
Aubagio, also an oral medication, taken once a day that helps to treat the relapsing forms of MS. Also known as teriflunomide, Aubagio decreases certain cells in the immune systems that attack the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, decreasing the physical symptoms of the disease. This medication can be taken with or without food and is available in both 7mg and 14mg capsules, depending on whether you have relapsing MS or progressive MS. While Aubagio can cause serious side effects, such as a decrease in white blood cell count, more commonly associated symptoms include headache, diarrhea and hair loss.
Ocrevus, also known as ocrelizumab, is a fairly new medication that slows the progress of multiple sclerosis. Referred to as a breakthrough drug, Ocrevus is used with the advanced form of the disease, called Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. This drug is the first of its kind, shown to reduce new areas of inflammation in the brain of MS patients by as much as 95 percent. Ocherous is a monoclonal antibody whose job is to target a specific type of immune cell that damages the protective coating around nerve cells. Because this medication supresses the immune system, it is essential that patients are screened before using Ocrevus. Common side effects include rash, throat irritation, upper respiratory tract infections, fatigue, nausea, headache, dizziness, and flushing. This medication for PPMS is an exciting development in the treatment of this debilitating disease.
Gilenya is just one new treatment that has already helped so many patients prevent relapses, cutting the frequency by nearly half as often, as well as effectively slowing the progression of MS. When comparing the leading injectable type treatment offerings, Gilenya has been shown to reduce relapses even more effectively. In a 2-year study of conducted Gilenya, 70 percent of patients had no relapses in that entire time, a testament to the potential of Gilenya. Meanwhile, 82% with progressing MS showed no progression in that same time frame. It has also been shown to reduce the number of lesions visble on an MRI scan. Thanks to Gilenya, MS patients finally have a sense of hope. But this is not to say it is without risks. It should not be taken by women who are pregnant, and may can potentially slow the heart rate and increase the body’s risk of infection.
Tecfidera, another medication taken as a pill, is taken twice a day. Like Gilenya, Tecfidera can cut relapses by nearly half, delay the progression of MS and reduce the number of brain lesions. This was shown in a 2-year study alongside a placebo. With financial and insurance support offered, MS patients can potentially get this medication with a $0 copay, making it extremely affordable. Side effects of Tecfidera include allergic reactions, but more commonly they include stomach problems and potentially flushing. However, the flushing may be easily treated with aspirin if your doctor gives you the okay.