Dimethyl fumarate (Oral)
Medically reviewed on September 3, 2018
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
- Capsule, Delayed Release
Uses For dimethyl fumarate
Dimethyl fumarate is used to treat the relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Dimethyl fumarate will not cure MS, but it may slow some disabling effects and decrease the number of relapses of the disease.
Dimethyl fumarate is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using dimethyl fumarate
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For dimethyl fumarate, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to dimethyl fumarate or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of dimethyl fumarate in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Although appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of dimethyl fumarate have not been performed in the geriatric population, geriatric-specific problems are not expected to limit the usefulness of dimethyl fumarate in the elderly.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of dimethyl fumarate. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Infection or
- Liver problems or
- Lymphopenia (low white blood cells)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
Proper Use of dimethyl fumarate
Take dimethyl fumarate exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.
Dimethyl fumarate should come with a patient information leaflet. It is very important that you read and understand this information. Be sure to ask your doctor about anything you do not understand.
Swallow the delayed-release capsule whole. Do not crush or chew it. Do not sprinkle the contents of the capsule on food.
Take dimethyl fumarate with or without food. You may have less skin flushing if you take the medicine with food.
The dose of dimethyl fumarate will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of dimethyl fumarate. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage form (delayed-release capsules):
- For multiple sclerosis:
- Adults—At first, 120 milligrams (mg) two times a day. After 7 days, your doctor will increase your dose to 240 mg two times a day.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For multiple sclerosis:
If you miss a dose of dimethyl fumarate, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Store the medicine in its original container. Once you have opened a bottle, throw away any unused medicine after 90 days.
Precautions While Using dimethyl fumarate
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure dimethyl fumarate is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Dimethyl fumarate may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using dimethyl fumarate.
Dimethyl fumarate may increase your risk of developing infections, including a serious brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections while you are using dimethyl fumarate. Wash your hands often. Tell your doctor if you have lupus or if you have any kind of infection before you start using dimethyl fumarate. Also tell your doctor if you have ever had an infection that would not go away or an infection that kept coming back.
Check with your doctor right away if you have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.
Dimethyl fumarate may cause skin flushing. Tell your doctor right away if you have warmth, redness, itching, or a burning sensation in your face, neck, arms, or upper chest while using dimethyl fumarate.
Dimethyl fumarate Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Cough or hoarseness
- feeling of warmth
- fever or chills
- lower back or side pain
- painful or difficult urination
- redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
Incidence not known
- Black, tarry stools
- chest pain
- difficulty with swallowing
- fast heartbeat
- hives, itching, or rash
- large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
- swollen glands
- tightness in the chest
- trouble breathing
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- Acid or sour stomach
- stomach discomfort or upset
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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