Disease Modification - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Skip to navigation Skip to content

Disease Modification


In this article


Relapsing-remitting MS is thought to be primarily an inflammatory disease of myelin in the CNS. The disease process is characterized by periodic relapses followed by complete or incomplete recovery. Simultaneously, however, irreversible axonal damage and transection are known to occur (Trapp et al., 1998). Controlling inflammation early in the disease may also reduce the damage to axons (Coyle, 2008). The medications that are currently available to treat MS appear to be most effective during the early, inflammatory phase of MS, becoming less potent as the disease transitions to a more neurodegenerative process.

Since 1993, ten medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS (Jeffery, 2013). The information presented here is designed to allow a side-by-view of medication options without suggesting inter-medication comparisons, except where specifically supported by the results of head-to-head clinical trials. Comparing the efficacy of medications across trials is misleading because of key differences in the populations, outcome measures, and statistical analyses used in the studies.

Nine "first-line" FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies

Nine medications are FDA-approved for first-line use in relapsing forms of MS. Of these, five are delivered by injection, three are oral and one is by infusion.

Injectable options

Oral options

Additional FDA-approved disease-modifying therapy option

One additional medication – delivered by intravenous infusion – is approved for the treatment of MS:

FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) – a bird's eye view

Emerging therapies collaborative

The Society has joined with other MS organizations to provide authoritative, evidence-based resources for clinicians and patients regarding the benefits and risks of newly-emerging FDA-approved medications.  Click here for more information.

Drug development pipeline

Read about compounds currently under investigation for therapeutic use in MS.


Diagnosis & Management Healthcare Professional App

Download this unique, FREE tool and resource that provides important information about the diagnosis and management of multiple sclerosis for practicing clinicians. The App is a concise compilation of current, easy-to-reference, evidence-based information that you can access at no charge as an Apple, Droid and Windows "App".

App production made possible by Allergan, Bayer HealthCare, Novartis and Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Download for iPhone

Download for Android

Download for Windows Phone

Become a Research Champion

An MS Research Revolution


Understanding and ending MS can’t come fast enough – it will take all of us working together. It’s easy to be a champion for MS Research – join us and proudly let everyone know that you’re helping to lead the MS Research Revolution.

Become a Research Champion

Become a Research Champion