MS medications can be divided into several categories. The first group of medications (disease modifying therapies) are drugs that impact the underlying disease. These drugs are also called immunmodulatory therapies and generally work by targeting some aspect of the inflammatory process of MS, with an aim of preventing inflammation which causes relapses.
Second, there are medications (steroids) that help to decrease the severity and duration of MS relapses. A relapse is caused by an area of acute inflammation in the central nervous system and steroids work to actively suppress inflammation. Steroids are powerful medications with a variety of side effects if taken long term and so they are used over the short term to improve relapse symptoms and speed healing.
Finally, there are medications that help ease many MS related symptoms. Many medications come into this category. There are medications to help fatigue, spasticity, and pain, to name a few.
The availability of new treatments is increasing steadily thanks to continuing research in Canada and throughout the world. See the Research section for more information.
Short updates, focused on news affecting MS treatment
In addition to medications, living a healthy lifestyle will help to maximize your sense of well being. A balanced diet, adequate rest, and some form of regular exercise are all ways of equipping your body with what it needs to help you feel your best. And healthy living benefits more than your physical well being- it may just help your emotional health as well!
Disease modifying therapies
Health Canada has approved five therapies that reduce the frequency and severity of MS relapses. Some of these drugs also have some data to support that they may have an effect on slowing the accumulation of disability over time. They are:
- Avonex® Interferon beta-1a
- Betaseron® Interferon beta-1b
- Copaxone® Glatiramer acetate
- Rebif® Interferon beta-1a
- Tysabri® Natalizumab
For more information, please see: