Medications used to treat Multiple Sclerosis fall into three different categories: preventative treatment, symptomatic treatment, and acute treatment.
Preventative treatments help to prevent future relapses (attacks) and help reduce the number of new lesions (lesions cause the symptoms/attacks of Multiple Sclerosis). These treatments are for people who have Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. There are four drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for preventative treatment: Betaseron, Rebif, Avonex, and Glatiramer Acetate (also called Copaxone). A fifth drug, Natalizubam (Tysabri) is used only if the other four drugs have not worked. Mitoxatrone (Novantrone) also reduces the number of relapses (attacks) and helps to slow disease progression. It is the only drug approved by the FDA for Secondary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis but can also be used by people who have Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis.
Symptomatic treatments help to alleviate the symptoms of an attack. Fatigue is treated with Amantadine, Modafinil, Provigril or stimulants (Methylpenidate, Ritalin, 4-aminopyridine). Spasticity (spasms like hand jerking) is treated with Baclofen, Tizanidine (Zanaflex), Orbenzodiazepine (Clonazepam), Gabapentin and Benzodiazepines. Medications used to treat pain include Gabapentin (Neurontin), Pregabilin (Lyrica), Amitriptyline (Elavil), or Carbamazepine (Tegretol). Bladder problems are treated with Oxybutynin, Terazosin, Doxazosin, or Tamsulosin and bowel problems are treated with Metamucil. Tremors can be treated with Clonazepam and depression is treated with SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) such as Prozac and Zoloft. Cognition problems are treated with stimulant drugs, Modafinil, Methylphenidate, Protriptyline, or Donepezil.
Acute treatments help to alleviate acute attacks. Symptomatic treatments treat the symptoms of the attack while acute treatments help to treat what is causing the attack. The cause of the attack is when the myelin (protective coating of nerve fibers in the brain) is being attacked by plaques. Cortiosteroids are given to treat acute attacks.
At this time there are no medications available to treat Primary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
Additional resource that provide more information on medications used to treat Multiple Sclerosis
Drugs@FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) *** This page isn’t specifically about MS medications. But, you can search for a medication and find more information about it.