Slowing progression of multiple sclerosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), but medications may slow progression of this condition. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of these medications to help you stay healthier longer.

  • Glatiramer (Copaxone). This drug is thought to reduce the number of MS attacks by preventing your immune system from attacking the myelin covering around your nerves.
  • Beta-interferons. Beta-interferons are thought to reduce the number of MS attacks, lessen the severity of attacks and slow disease progression. If you take interferons, you will likely undergo regular blood and liver function testing.
  • Fingolimod (Gilenya). This medication is given to reduce the number of MS attacks you experience and your short-term disability. To take this medication, you'll need to be immune to the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus) and must be monitored for several hours after your first dose.
  • Teriflunomide (Aubagio). This drug reduces the number of MS attacks and lesions. Its side effects, which include liver damage and damage to developing fetuses, can be severe. If your body reacts badly to the drug, you'll need special treatment to quickly eliminate teriflunomide from your body.
  • Mitoxantrone. This medication, which suppresses your immune system, is given only to people whose MS is active, severe and advanced because it may promote development of blood cancers and harm your heart.
  • Natalizumab (Tysabri). This drug may reduce the number of MS attacks. Your doctor likely will recommend it only after you have tried other medications without success. It increases the likelihood of a brain infection (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy) that is usually fatal.
Apr. 08, 2014 See more In-depth