Disease-modifying treatments aim to prevent or reduce the number of relapses that occur in relapsing-remitting MS, and thereby reduce the accumulation of disability over the person's lifetime.
First-line disease-modifying treatments include interferon beta 1b, interferon beta 1a and glatiramer acetate. These are all taken by injection weekly, every few days or daily, depending on the dosage. They have all been shown in treatment trials to reduce relapse rates, and in most people with MS, reduce disability progression in the short term. Common side effects can include flu-like symptoms, mood changes and injection site reactions.
If a person with MS does not appear to be responding to the first-line treatments described above, natalizumab (given by intravenous infusion every four weeks) or finglomod (an oral therapy) may be prescribed. Both have side effects which need to be monitored.
For more details, read
MS in focus - pharmacological treatments in MS.