The disease-modifying medications are designed for long-term use — and it is recommended that people continue their medication unless the side effects are too severe, the medication is clearly not working or a better treatment becomes available. However, many people stop their medication after a period of weeks or months — and here are some reasons why:
“I’m not feeling any better.”
It’s important to remember that the disease-modifying medications are designed to reduce the underlying disease activity. They don’t treat symptoms, cure the disease, or make people feel better — in fact, you may not be able to feel them working at all. But your disease-modifying medication is an important investment in your future because it’s working “behind the scenes” to help slow disease process.
“The side effects make me feel worse than the disease.”
Some people have more problems with side effects than others. Whatever side effects you are experiencing are best managed in collaboration with your healthcare team and the drug manufacturer’s support program. People who experience intolerable side effects that don’t improve over time should talk with their healthcare provider about other medication options.
“I have taken my medication but I had an exacerbation anyway.”
None of these medications are able to cure MS or completely stop its progression. Some people will continue to experience activity even while taking their medication faithfully. You and your healthcare provider may determine that a change of treatment is needed if your MS disease activity persists despite adherence to your medication.
“My insurance stopped covering the medication I was taking.”
The pharmaceutical manufacturers and the National MS Society are available to help you sort out insurance issues. If your insurance plan no longer covers the medication you are taking, contact for assistance as soon as possible in order to avoid interruption in your treatment. If no solution can be found to the problem, your healthcare provider may recommend a different medication that is covered by your insurance plan.
“I can no longer afford the co-payments for my medication.”
Insurance companies can raise or lower co-payments without notice. This is another situation in which the manufacturer or the Society may be able to assist you.
If you have questions or concerns about any of these issues, be sure to view the resources and guidance on the patient assistance programs page and in the guide to prescription financial assistance.
For additional help, contact an MS Navigator at 1-800-344-4867, or the manufacturer of the medication you are taking.