Managing the Disease Course

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: April 2023

Although multiple sclerosis (MS) does not have a cure, there are many drugs you can take to help treat the disease. These drugs, called disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), may help prevent permanent damage to your central nervous system (CNS). This damage can occur early in the disease, even when you feel well and do not have symptoms. That is why treatment with DMTs should begin as soon as possible after diagnosis.1

What are DMTs?

DMTs have been shown to reduce the number and severity of attacks that people with MS have. By preventing new lesions, DMTs can slow the damage to the brain and spinal cord caused by MS. They can thus slow down the progression of disability.1

Several DMTs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating MS.1

Injected treatments

  • AvonexⓇ (interferon beta-1a)
  • BetaseronⓇ (interferon beta-1b)
  • CopaxoneⓇ (glatiramer acetate)
  • ExtaviaⓇ (interferon beta-1b)
  • GlatopaⓇ (glatiramer acetate)
  • KesimptaⓇ (ofatumumab)
  • PlegridyⓇ (pegylated interferon beta-1a)
  • RebifⓇ (interferon beta-1a)
  • Briumvi™ (ublituximab)

Oral treatments

  • AubagioⓇ (terlflunomide)
  • Bafiertam™ (monomethyl fumarate)
  • GilenyaⓇ (finglolimod)
  • MavencladⓇ (cladribine)
  • MayzentⓇ (siponimod)
  • Ponvory™ (ponesimod)
  • TecfideraⓇ (dimethyl fumarate)
  • VumerityⓇ (diroximel fumarate)
  • ZeposiaⓇ (ozanimod)
  • Tascenso ODTⓇ (fingolimod)

Intravenous (IV) treatments

  • LemtradaⓇ (alemtuzumab)
  • NovantroneⓇ (mitoxantrone)
  • OcreveusⓇ (ocrelizumab)
  • TysabriⓇ (natalizumab)

First-line and second-line drugs

Some DMTs are first-line drugs. This means that they are the first drugs tried when someone is diagnosed with MS. Other drugs are reserved for people who have not responded to the first-line drugs. These treatments are second-line drugs.2

Will DMTs improve my daily symptoms?

Most DMTs do not improve everyday symptoms. However, many symptoms of MS can be managed using other types of drugs and lifestyle changes. You might find that a combination of treatments works best. Many people with MS manage their disease progression using DMTs and their symptoms with other treatments and a healthy lifestyle.1,2

Which MS treatments are best?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing MS. A wide range of therapies and treatment options are available. Your choice of treatments will depend on many factors. These include your symptoms, your overall health, and any other medical conditions you may have.1

Some drugs used to manage MS are chosen based on the following factors:1

  • Potential side effects and other risks
  • Your medical history and other health conditions
  • Costs and insurance coverage
  • Desire to become pregnant, as some drugs are not safe during pregnancy
  • Ability or willingness to learn how to self-inject, as some drugs are given by injection

When choosing a treatment for MS, work closely with your doctor to find the best plan. This may involve trying different therapies to see what works best. Keep your goals in mind as you and your doctor decide on a treatment plan.1

Managing your MS disease course can be a challenge. But with the help of your doctor, you can find a treatment plan that works for you. Many drugs may help reduce the number of relapses or lesions you develop. Work closely with your doctor to ensure you are getting the most out of your treatments.1

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