Medication for multiple sclerosis is a complex issue. The treatments can be divided into several categories: medicines that change the course of the disease, medications for the treatment of the disease symptoms, and drugs for the treatment of seizures. This post will focus on drugs that change the course of the disease in its relapsing-remitting form. These treatments do not cure MS even though they are a vital component in treating the disease. Currently, they are the best available strategy for slowing MS progression and slowing down the cumulative damage.
The treatments suppress or reduce the immune system activity since inflammation is responsible for damaging the nervous system in the early stages of the disease. The ultimate treatment goal is to reduce disease progression.
The decision of whether to take the drug and choosing the right medication is a joint decision of you and the medical team. You need to have enough information to make an informed decision. In the conversation with your medical care team, you can ask about the drug’s mechanism of action.
You can also inquire about how other patients responded to clinical trials before its approval. You need to know how to take it, what are the common side effects, and whether there are potential risks in taking the drug.
In this discussion, you should also emphasize what is important to you in terms of managing the disease and explain the lifestyle that is important for you to maintain. Together you can decide on the treatment that works best for you.
Because each body is unique, and each disease responds differently to treatment, the response to the drug is individual. That is, a drug that is the best option for one person may not be the best choice for another person.
Also, a remedy that is appropriate for the current condition and helps control the progression of the present disease may be less applicable in the future. Therefore, it is essential to have an open and honest dialogue with the medical team. Sometimes the question arises as to why the doctor recommended starting the treatment even though you do not necessarily have any symptoms. It is important to remember that inflammation does not always cause visible signs. Its quiet activity may mean that although you feel well, there may still be changes that only MRI scans can detect.
Studies demonstrate that taking these drugs can lead to fewer new areas of damage (lesions) in the brain and spinal cord. There are currently a wide variety of drugs that work in different ways in the body. Some of the generic names of the medications include Interferon-beta, Glatiramer acetate, Teriflunomide, Fingolimod, Ocrelizumab, Cladribine, and Alemtuzumab. Most drugs are self-injected, some infused, others are in the form of pills/tablets, and some need to be administrated through IV. The drugs differ in the mechanisms of action as well as their side effects.
Most people living with MS in its relapsing-remitting phase will require Disease Modifying Drugs indefinitely, except in cases where the side effects are unbearable, or if a new treatment is more relevant.