Disease modifying therapies

Disease modifying therapies (DMTs) are not a cure for MS, but they can reduce how many relapses someone has and how serious they are.

They can also slow down the damage caused by relapsing MS that builds up over time.

We've listed the 11 DMTs that are currently available below. Click on each one to find out more.

These therapies are available now. To read about what other projects MS researchers are working on, visit our treatments in the pipeline section.

 

Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada)

You can take alemtuzumab (sold under the name Lemtrada) if:

  • you've got relapsing remitting MS and you've had a relapse in the past year and MRI scans show new signs (lesions) that your MS is active despite taking another DMT
  • alemtuzumab can be used more widely as a person's first DMT. But this is only if they've had a recent relapse and/or if MRI scans show new signs that their MS is active (they have new lesions). In these cases it can be used whether people have tried another DMT or not.

Most people have two courses of treatment spaced a year apart from each other. It's given through a drip (known as an infusion) in hospital. For the first course you go to hospital five days in a row. Each day you have an infusion that takes about four hours. You might go home every day two hours after your infusion or you may stay in hospital for the length of the treatment.

You have the second course a year later, over three days in a row, again for about four hours each day. For some people a third (or even fourth) course is needed. Again, this will be over three days in a row, for about four hours each day.

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Avonex (interferon beta-1b)

You can take Avonex (a brand name for one of the beta interferon drugs) if:

  • you’ve got relapsing remitting MS and you've had a recent relapse and/or if MRI scans show new signs that your MS is active (you have new lesions)
  • you have secondary progressive MS and still have significant relapses

It’s injected into the muscle once a week.

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Betaferon (interferon beta-1b)

You can take Betaferon (a brand name for one of the beta interferon drugs) if:

  • you’ve got relapsing remitting MS and you've had a recent relapse and/or if MRI scans show new signs that your MS is active (you have new lesions)
  • you have secondary progressive MS and still have significant relapses

It’s injected under the skin every other day.

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Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera)

You can take dimethyl fumarate (sold under the name Tecfidera) if you've got relapsing remitting MS and you've had a recent relapse and/or if MRI scans show new signs that your MS is active (you have new lesions).

It’s a tablet you take twice a day.

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Extavia (beta interferon-1b)

You can take Extavia (a brand name for one of the beta interferon drugs) if:

  • you’ve got relapsing remitting MS and you've had a recent relapse and/or if MRI scans show new signs that your MS is active (you have new lesions)
  • you have secondary progressive MS and still have significant relapses

It's injected under the skin every other day.

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Fingolimod (Gilenya)

You can take fingolimod (sold under the name Gilenya) if you have relapsing remitting MS. Whether you can be easily prescribed it depends on where in the UK you live.

In England:

  • people who have the same or an increased number of relapses despite treatment with beta interferons (Avonex, Rebif, Betaferon, Extavia or Plegridy) or glatiramer acetate (Copaxone)
  • people who are currently on natalizumab (Tysabri) and are at high risk of developing the brain infection PML can be switched to fingolimod

In Scotland:

  • people with highly active relapsing remiting MS who have failed to respond to a DMT
  • people who have had two or more disabling relapses in one year and an increase in lesions as shown on an MRI scan

In Wales and Northern Ireland:

  • people who have the same or an increased number of relapses despite treatment with interferon betas (Avonex, Rebif, Betaferon, Extavia or Plegridy)

Across the UK:

The most recent ABN guidance suggests that fingolimod can also be used as the first drug treatment for people with highly active relapsing remitting MS.

It’s a tablet you take once a day.

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Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone)

You can take glatiramer acetate (sold under the name Copaxone) if:

  • you’ve got relapsing remitting MS and you've had a recent relapse and/or if MRI scans show new signs that your MS is active (you have new lesions)

It's injected under the skin using a pre-filled syringe once a day or three times a week.

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Natalizumab (Tysabri)

You can take natalizumab (sold under the name Tysabri) if:

  • you've got relapsing remitting MS and you've had a relapse in the past year and if MRI scans show new signs (lesions) that your MS is active despite taking another DMT
  • you've got relapsing remitting MS and (whether or not you've taken another DMT) you've had at least two relapses in the last year and MRI scans show new signs that your MS is active (you have new lesions)

Natalizumab is given through a drip (known as an infusion), which takes about an hour. You need to go to hospital once every four weeks for the infusion, but you don't need to stay overnight.

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Plegridy (peginterferon beta 1a).

You can take Plegridy (a brand name for one of the beta interferon drugs) if:

  • you’ve got relapsing remitting MS and you've had a recent relapse and/or if MRI scans show new signs that your MS is active (you have new lesions)
  • you have secondary progressive MS and still have significant relapses

It's injected under the skin every two weeks.

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Rebif (beta interferon-1a)

You can take Rebif (a brand name for one of the beta interferon drugs) if:

  • you’ve got relapsing remitting MS and you've had a recent relapse and/or if MRI scans show new signs that your MS is active (you have new lesions)
  • you have secondary progressive MS and still have significant relapses

It's injected under the skin three times a week.

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Teriflunomide (Aubagio)

You can take teriflunomide (sold under the name Aubagio) if you’ve had a recent relapse and/or if MRI scans show new signs that your MS is active (new lesions).

It's not approved for treating highly active or rapidly evolving relapsing remitting MS

It’s a tablet that you take once a day.

>> Download a copy of our disease modifying therapy guide

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