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Disease Modification

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In this article


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) characterized by inflammation, demyelination and degenerative changes that can lead to functional loss and disability.

Most people with MS experience relapses and remissions of neurological symptoms, particularly early in the disease, and relapses are usually associated with new inflammation in the CNS. Over time, there are fewer relapses and less new inflammatory activity with the disease process becoming more progressive.  There is a large body of evidence that supports early and ongoing treatment with an approved disease modifying therapy as an evidence-based approach to reducing new relapses, delaying progression of disability and limiting new inflammation in the CNS.

FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies (DMTs)

The FDA has approved several disease modifying therapies for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS, which include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease (RRMS) and active secondary progressive disease (SPMS with relapses). One DMT has also been approved for primary progressive MS and one other for non-active secondary progressive MS (no inflammatory demyelination or clinical relapses).

Read more about each of the disease modifying therapies here.

MS Coalition Evidence-Based Consensus Paper on DMTs

The Multiple Sclerosis Coalition has published an evidence-based consensus paper entitled The Use of Disease-Modifying Therapies in Multiple Sclerosis: Principles and Current Evidence. A Consensus Paper by the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition. This document was developed and endorsed by the eight Coalition member organizations, and subsequently endorsed by the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS). The paper is designed to: summarize current evidence about disease modification in MS;  highlight the importance of early and ongoing treatment; and provide support for broad access to FDA-approved MS disease-modifying therapies for people with MS in the United States.

American Academy of Neurology Practice Guideline for the Use of DMTs

In April 2018 the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) published a practice guideline for the use of disease modifying therapies for adults with multiple sclerosis. These guidelines have been endorsed by the National MS Society and Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. The guidelines address starting, switching and stopping disease modifying therapies for adults with clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting MS and progressive forms of MS. The full guidelines and summaries are available for clinicians and patients.

Guideline: Disease Modifying Therapies for Multiple Sclerosis - American Academy of Neurology

For most people, it’s better to start taking drugs for multiple sclerosis (MS) early on rather than letting the disease run its course, according to a new guideline for treating MS from the American Academy of Neurology.

Additional resources


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