Switching MS Treatments: When and Why It Might Be Time To Switch
Effective treatment of multiple sclerosis involves disease-modifying therapies. DMTs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on their proven ability to slow disease processes in MS. Switching DMTs is common among people with relapsing forms of MS. In a large observational study spanning 19 years, researchers followed 110,326 people diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. The study found that participants stopped one DMT and switched to another within six months 159,309 times.
There are several reasons why you and your neurologist may decide to switch your MS treatment from one DMT to another, including side effects, disease progression, and a medication’s reduced effectiveness over time.
Why Do MS Treatments Sometimes Stop Working?
There are several reasons why doctors think some treatments may stop working after a while. One of the most common theories is that your body may gradually develop antibodies against the disease-modifying drugs. Normally, your body makes immune proteins called antibodies against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. When taking MS medication, your body’s immune system may recognize the drug as foreign and make antibodies to deactivate the medication, preventing it from working properly. There is a higher risk of developing such antibodies among people taking interferons or alemtuzumab (Lemtrada).
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).
In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms.
There’s no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.