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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
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Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center

Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center
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Department of Neurology
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Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center
Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center

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New Warnings About Two MS Disease-Modifying Drugs

The decision to take any of the approved MS drug therapies can be a difficult one for anyone. All drugs come with the risk of side effects, and disease-modifying drugs for MS are no exception.

I often read comments on social media by those who have decided not to take MS medications berating those who do. But I believe this is a personal decision, to be made with a person’s family and doctors.

Most people with MS do take disease-modifying drugs and do so with  levels of success. Some eventually stop a drug or switch to another, either because of a lack of positive effects or because of bothersome side effects.

News published in the last week or so has brought to light a new potential side effect of the drug Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) and announced a new warning on the label of Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate).

New Side Effect of Lemtrada Noted

In correspondence published in the February 2017 issue of Lancet Neurology, German researchers reported on two individuals who had developed multiple new brain lesions after receiving treatment with Lemtrada.

Lemtrada is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS. Because it is known to have some serious side effects, it is generally reserved for people who have previously tried and had an inadequate response to two or more other MS drugs.

Both patients improved after receiving plasmapheresis, in one case, and the drug Rituxan (rituximab), in the other.

The researchers noted that “It remains to be determined if the disease observed in these two patients after treatment is due to worsening of multiple sclerosis or to the development of secondary CNS-directed autoimmunity.” (CNS stands for central nervous system.)

Warning Added for Tecfidera

The other news about MS drug side effects came from the drug maker Biogen, which manufactures Tecfidera.

The prescribing information for Tecfidera was updated to include a warning that it may cause “clinically significant” liver injury that could require hospitalization. So far, 14 cases of liver injury have been reported in people taking Tecfidera. The onset of liver problems ranged from several days after starting the drug to several months, but all abnormalities resolved after the person stopped taking the drug.

Knowledge Is Power

This information isn’t passed on to make anyone afraid to take an MS drug, to change your decision-making process, or to scare those already taking the medications. Rather, I believe that knowledge is power, and the more information we have (and sometimes this information isn’t easy to find), the better our choices can be.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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