Finding the Right MS Drug for Each Patient
Multiple Sclerosis medications are used to modify the course of the disease. They also treat relapses and manage current symptoms. Medications for Multiple Sclerosis help patients manage their MS and decrease their chance for a relapse.
Medications for Multiple Sclerosis have come a long way in the past decade. While injectable drugs used to be the only option, there are now oral medications available as well. Depending on one’s lifestyle, there are a variety of multiple sclerosis drugs for a patient and doctor to choose. Doing an MS drugs comparison can help patients and doctors choose the right interferon MS drug for each individual MS case.
There are three methods of administering MS medications. This includes injections of medication, oral medication, and IV administered, or infused, medication. On the multiple sclerosis medication list for injectable drugs is Avonex, Rebif, Copaxone, and Betaseron. Avonex and Rebif are very similar drugs, except they are administered differently. Avonex is injected into the muscle once a week. This lets the medication stay in the body longer, so it has to be given less often.
Rebif, on the other hand, it given subcutaneously three times per week. Both of these drugs are interferon beta 1a. These medications are produced from the naturally-occurring interferons in the human body. They are made up of the same major components of proteins that are in the body. Patients who take interferon beta 1a are at a reduced risk for disease progression, they have fewer relapses, and they have a reduced number of active lesions shown on their MRIs. Interferon beta 1a also delays the time between exacerbations.
Working a bit differently, Betaseron is an interferon 1b, which is a different amino acid in the body. This subcutaneous injection is administered every other day.
Copaxone is a glatiramer acetate, which is a man-made protein that imitates the myelin basic protein, which insulates the nerve fibers in the patient’s brain and spinal cord. Copaxone blocks myelin-damaging cells.
The three oral medications available for the treatment of multiple sclerosis are Gilenya, Tecfidera, and Aubagio. These drugs must be taken daily and are newer to the market. Because these are newer than the injections, they have a smaller segment of time that they have been studied, but thus far they have come with positive results for patients with MS.
If the injectable medications and oral medications have both failed, the next step is the try the infused drug, Tysabri. Tysabri keeps immune cells from entering the brain and spinal cord, where they damage nerves. Because this drug has a risk factor of being linked to the deadly disease, PML, Tysabri is typically used only if other drugs have failed.