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Medications are available to slow the course of multiple sclerosis (MS). These medications are called disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) or disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) because they slow the progression of multiple sclerosis. These medications have all been proven to benefit multiple sclerosis patients in well-designed large studies.
Though disease-modifying therapies are usually advisable, patients should discuss these therapies with their medical providers to decide whether they wish to use one of these medications.
Disease-modifying therapies are the only medications proven to slow multiple sclerosis. After 20 years, 15% to 20% of untreated patients are in wheelchairs and another 50% need aids to walk. Use of these medications should improve these odds and lessen the disability that develops over time.
The comprehensive approach to treatment of MS typically includes both a Disease Modifying Therapy (DMT) aimed at preventing relapse and progression of the disease as well as a treatment plan targeted at decreasing the symptoms that a patient may have. Disease Modifying Therapies for multiple sclerosis are currently available in injection, intravenous and oral forms. Symptomatic treatment plans are tailored to each patient’s needs and may include referrals to specialists such as urologists, physiatrists and psychiatrists, oral medications, botulinum toxin and emotional, cognitive, physical and occupational therapies.
The multiple sclerosis (MS) approved treatments are based on drugs that influence the immune system and are used to help prevent further attacks and progression of the disease. Six of these treatments are considered immunomodulatory drugs and one is a chemotherapeutic immunosuppressant. Both of the new oral therapies that are close to coming out, Gilenia (fingolimod) and cladribine, are immunosuppressants.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.