Treatments and drugsIf your attacks are mild or infrequent, your doctor may advise a wait-and-see approach, with counseling and observation.
Medications for relapsing MS
If you have a relapsing form of the disease, your doctor may recommend treatment with disease-modifying medications early in the course of disease. You can't take these medications if you're pregnant or may become pregnant. These medications for multiple sclerosis treatment include:
- Beta interferons. Interferon beta-1b (Betaseron) and interferon beta-1a (Avonex, Rebif) are genetically engineered copies of proteins that occur naturally in your body. They help fight viral infection and regulate your immune system.
- Glatiramer (Copaxone). This medication is an alternative to beta interferons if you have relapsing remitting MS. Doctors believe that glatiramer works by blocking your immune system's attack on myelin. You must inject glatiramer subcutaneously once daily. Side effects may include flushing and shortness of breath after injection.
- Natalizumab (Tysabri). This drug is administered intravenously once a month. It works by blocking the attachment of immune cells to brain blood vessels — a necessary step for immune cells to cross into the brain — thus reducing the immune cells' inflammatory action on brain nerve cells.
- Other medications. Mitoxantrone (Novantrone) is a chemotherapy drug used for many cancers. This drug is also FDA-approved for treatment of aggressive forms of relapsing remitting MS, as well as certain forms of progressive MS. It's given intravenously, typically every three months.
Some doctors are also prescribing other chemotherapy drugs, such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), for people with severe, rapidly progressing MS. However, these medications aren't FDA-approved for treatment of MS.
Some medications may relieve symptoms of progressive MS. They include:
- Muscle relaxants.
- Medications to reduce fatigue.
- Other medications.
In addition to medications, these treatments also may be helpful:
- Physical and occupational therapy.
- Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis
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