Multiple Sclerosis Treatment - Mayo Clinic
The FDA has approved numerous drugs to slow the progression of MS and prevent relapses.
Several different types of medication may be prescribed to people who have multiple sclerosis (MS).
One type, known as disease-modifying medications, can prevent acute MS attacks, or relapses, and in some cases slow the progression of the disease, thereby preventing physical and cognitive disability. Disease-modifying medications are sometimes called “immunomodulators,” because they affect the functioning of the immune system.
Other drugs, primarily corticosteroids, are used to help control severe symptoms during relapses.
There are also numerous drug treatments for managing various MS symptoms, such as pain, tremors, walking difficulty, and muscle spasticity.
Disease-Modifying Medication for MS
Disease-modifying medications do not make you feel better in the short term, nor do they address specific MS symptoms. They are effective at slowing the progression of disability caused by multiple sclerosis and lowering the frequency and severity of acute attacks in people who have the relapsing form of the disease, known as relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).
These drugs also reduce the development of new lesions (areas of damage, or scarring, in the brain and sometimes spinal cord), as seen on MRI scans.
For people with primary-progressive MS (PPMS), only one disease-modifying medication, Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), has been shown to lower the risk of disability progression. PPMS is marked by a gradual worsening of symptoms, without the acute attacks that occur in RRMS. (1)
RELATED: What People With MS Need to Know About Ocrelizumab
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following drugs to treat relapsing-remitting MS.
The FDA has also approved the IV drug Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) for people who have forms of MS that include relapses and who haven't responded well to two or more types of disease-modifying medication. (2)
Alemtuzumab works by rapidly depleting the body's supply of immune (T and B) cells, which temporarily stops the immune-system effects on your CNS and allows your body to create new cells, which might not attack myelin sheaths.
The FDA recommends using it only as a second-line therapy (after other drugs have failed) because it increases the risk of complications, including severe infections, development of new autoimmune diseases, and other potentially dangerous conditions.
Video: New drug for MS is milestone for patients and research
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