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Medications for Multiple Sclerosis

Other names: MS

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms differ among people with the disease but generally include:

  • Balance problems
  • Concentration and focusing problems
  • Fatigue
  • Movement difficulties
  • Muscle weakness or spasms
  • Pain
  • Poor bladder or bowel control
  • Vision difficulties (blurred or double vision).

MS can affect anyone; however, women are up to 3 times more likely to get it than men. The first symptoms generally happen between the ages of 20 and 40. Some people with mild MS may not need treatment whereas others will have trouble getting around and doing daily tasks. Most people with MS have attacks of symptoms followed by a period of recovery when symptoms improve. In others, the condition gradually progresses with time.

What Causes MS?

MS happens because a person’s immune system attacks the covering that wraps around and protects each nerve (this is called the myelin sheath), although experts are still not exactly sure what triggers this. Without this protective covering, nerves become damaged and inflamed and develop scar tissue (this is called sclerosis). This affects how nerve signals are transmitted and interpreted. In severe disease, nerves may not function at all.

Although MS is not considered a hereditary disease, people can inherit genes that give them a higher risk of developing MS (approximately 200 genes have been identified associated with MS). Smokers are also more likely to develop MS than nonsmokers, and research suggests that some incidences of MS may be triggered by a viral infection, such as the Epstein Barr virus or human herpes virus 6. MS is also more common in countries furthest from the equator.

How is MS Diagnosed?

If you are experiencing any symptoms suggestive of MS, make an appointment with your doctor. It is not easy to diagnose MS because there is not one specific symptom, physical finding or laboratory test that can prove someone has MS.

Your doctor will examine you and test your reflexes as well as take a thorough medical history. Various other tests will be ordered, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your brain and spinal cord, an evaluation of your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and certain blood tests.

How is MS Treated?

MS does not yet have a cure, and nerve damage is not reversible. The good news is that early treatment can:

  • help delay flare-ups
  • slow deterioration in the nervous system
  • boost quality of life.

There are many different treatment options for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.

Anti-inflammatory agents like prednisone are often used for acute flares in MS to lower nerve inflammation.

There are also several types of beta-interferon preparations, which can help delay flare-ups. Many new treatments have also come onto the market in the last decade. Talk to your doctor about what treatment is best for you.

Drugs Used to Treat Multiple Sclerosis

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rx / OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol Reviews Rating Popularity
Copaxone B N 121 reviews
7.8

Generic name: glatiramer systemic

Drug class: other immunostimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Gilenya C N 84 reviews
7.0

Generic name: fingolimod systemic

Drug class: selective immunosuppressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Ampyra C N 63 reviews
8.0

Generic name: dalfampridine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous central nervous system agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Tecfidera C N 62 reviews
6.3

Generic name: dimethyl fumarate systemic

Drug class: selective immunosuppressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Tysabri C N 88 reviews
7.8

Generic name: natalizumab systemic

Drug class: selective immunosuppressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Aubagio X N X 52 reviews
5.7

Generic name: teriflunomide systemic

Drug class: selective immunosuppressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Rebif C N X 23 reviews
7.0

Generic name: interferon beta-1a systemic

Drug class: interferons

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Avonex C N X 35 reviews
7.4

Generic name: interferon beta-1a systemic

Drug class: interferons

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Betaseron C N X 5 reviews
7.7

Generic name: interferon beta-1b systemic

Drug class: interferons

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

prednisone C N Add review
6.5

Generic name: prednisone systemic

Drug class: glucocorticoids

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

glatiramer B N 132 reviews
7.5

Generic name: glatiramer systemic

Brand names:  Copaxone, Glatopa

Drug class: other immunostimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Avonex Pen C N X 10 reviews
9.3

Generic name: interferon beta-1a systemic

Drug class: interferons

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Ocrevus N 31 reviews
4.7

Generic name: ocrelizumab systemic

Drug class: CD20 monoclonal antibodies

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

fingolimod C N 86 reviews
7.1

Generic name: fingolimod systemic

Brand name:  Gilenya

Drug class: selective immunosuppressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph

interferon beta-1a C N X 77 reviews
7.7

Generic name: interferon beta-1a systemic

Brand names:  Rebif, Avonex, Avonex Pen, Rebif Rebidose …show all

Drug class: interferons

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts

dalfampridine C N 63 reviews
8.0

Generic name: dalfampridine systemic

Brand name:  Ampyra

Drug class: miscellaneous central nervous system agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

dexamethasone C N 1 review
10

Generic name: dexamethasone systemic

Brand names:  Dexamethasone Intensol, De-Sone LA, Dexpak Taperpak, Dxevo, HiDex …show all

Drug class: glucocorticoids

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

dimethyl fumarate C N 64 reviews
6.4

Generic name: dimethyl fumarate systemic

Brand name:  Tecfidera

Drug class: selective immunosuppressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph

natalizumab C N 90 reviews
7.7

Generic name: natalizumab systemic

Brand name:  Tysabri

Drug class: selective immunosuppressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph

teriflunomide X N X 54 reviews
5.8

Generic name: teriflunomide systemic

Brand name:  Aubagio

Drug class: selective immunosuppressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Acthar C N 4 reviews
6.8

Generic name: corticotropin systemic

Drug class: corticotropin

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Extavia C N X Add review
0.0

Generic name: interferon beta-1b systemic

Drug class: interferons

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Imuran D N Add review
0.0

Generic name: azathioprine systemic

Drug class: antirheumatics, other immunosuppressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

interferon beta-1b C N X 5 reviews
7.7

Generic name: interferon beta-1b systemic

Brand names:  Betaseron, Extavia

Drug class: interferons

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts

Lemtrada C N 9 reviews
5.9

Generic name: alemtuzumab systemic

Drug class: CD52 monoclonal antibodies

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Topics under Multiple Sclerosis

Learn more about Multiple Sclerosis

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

ICD-10 CM Clinical Codes (External)

Legend

Rx Prescription Only
OTC Over the Counter
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter
Off Label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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Further information

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