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Relapsing MS Treatments: Get the Facts

One question I often get from my patients is, “how do I choose a relapsing multiple sclerosis treatment when there are so many options available?” Well, choosing a relapsing MS treatment is a big decision—and there are many factors for you and your healthcare provider to consider.

Disease-modifying therapies—also known as DMTs—are what healthcare providers call the relapsing MS treatment options available. DMTs have unique features, from the way they are taken, to the clinical study results, to how they work within the body. In this post, we’ll take a look at what types of relapsing MS treatments are available and, while there’s no definitive scientific evidence on exactly how they work, we’ll explore how some of them are thought to work. 

A little history on relapsing MS treatments

In the 1990s, the first injectable relapsing MS treatment was approved in the US.1 Today, as I write this, there are 15 FDA-approved DMTs in the US.1,2 Here’s the breakdown:

As you can tell, we’ve come a long way, but with choices come challenges. When you ask yourself, “Which treatment is right for me?” you might feel overwhelmed thinking about all the options that are available. Let’s take a closer look at different ways these relapsing MS treatments work and the science behind what they do inside the body. That way, you can get a better idea of how MS impacts the body and why healthcare providers may recommend certain treatments based on different cases of relapsing MS.

DMTs in the body

 

Every DMT has a specific way of working in the body to help manage relapsing MS. A mechanism of action—also known as MOA—is the description of how a drug is thought to work in the body. Today, there are many FDA-approved DMTs to choose from with many different kinds of MOAs. Here’s a look at some of the ways DMTs affect the body:

Finding the right DMT for you


If you’re experiencing relapses, lesions, or disability progression on your current DMT, your healthcare provider will likely recommend switching to a different therapy. He or she may look at the MOA of the treatment you’re on and suggest a treatment that works differently. 

It’s important to do research on relapsing MS treatment options you’re considering. Take a look at the clinical data, patient stories, and the MOA—and don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare team any questions you may have. One thing that many of my patients find helpful is attending events where healthcare providers discuss treatment options and patients tell stories about their treatment experience. Plus, these events are a great way to meet others in the MS community. And if you can’t make it to an in-person event, online events are also a great way to learn about different DMTs.

I encourage you to attend at least one of these events where you can learn about two different treatment options. This is a great way to get the facts about a few DMTs that may be right for you.

 

Key Takeaways

  1. DMT stands for disease-modifying therapy and there are currently 15 FDA-approved DMTs.
  2. An MOA is a mechanism of action, meaning how a drug works in the body.
  3. There are many different MOAs of the DMTs used to treat MS, providing many different treatment options.

References:  1. Pardo G, Jones DE. The sequence of disease-modifying therapies in relapsing multiple sclerosis: safety and immunologic considerations. J Neurol. 2017; 264:2351-2374. 2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. FDA working with manufacturers to withdraw Zinbryta from the market in the United States. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/ucm600999.htm. Accessed April 18, 2018. 3. Multiple Sclerosis Coalition. The use of disease-modifying therapies in multiple sclerosis: principles and current evidence. March 2017.  http://www.nationalmssociety.org/getmedia/5ca284d3-fc7c-4ba5-b005-ab537d495c3c/DMT_Consensus_MS_Coalition_color. Accessed May 21, 2018.

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