The goals of treatment for MS are multi-fold and include:

  • Slowing MS activity and progression
  • Reducing the severity and duration of relapses
  • Treating the individual symptoms of MS

At this time, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis and treatment generally focuses on patient aspects such as speeding recovery from attacks and managing symptoms. Treatment for attacks may include corticosteroids and (less commonly) plasma exchange while treatments for signs and symptoms can include physical therapy, muscle relaxants, agents to reduce fatigue, and other medications for sequelae such as pain, depression, bladder/bowel control problems and others that may be associated with underlying MS.

In addition to symptomatic management, there are several disease-modifying agents available. Along with the other components of MS care, these medications can help people manage their MS and reduce disease activity and impairment due to relapses (these don’t directly enhance their comfort and quality of life). The agents in the table below are approved by the FDA to reduce disease activity and disability progression due to relapses for many people with relapsing forms of MS. Some data support the importance of early DMT initiation, although this is controversial.

In addition to FDA-approved agents, there are several agents in development, including daclizumab, laquinimod, ibudilast, ocrelizumab, and ofatumumab.

Agent Approved Type of MS
IFNb-1b SQ every other day 1993, 2009 Relapsing forms of MS, CIS
Glatiramer acetate SQ daily or 3x/wk 1996 RRMS, CIS
IFNb 1a IM weekly 1996 RRMS, CIS
IFNb 1a SQ 3x/wk 2002 RRMS
Mitoxantrone IV q 3mo 2000 Worsening RRMS, SPMS, progressive relapsing MS
Natalizumab q 4wks IV 2004/2006 Relapsing MS
Fingolimod daily tablet 2010 Relapsing MS
Teriflunomide daily tab 2012 Relapsing MS
Dimethyl fumarate oral BID 2013 RRMS
peginterferon-b 1a q 2wks 2014 Relapsing MS
Alemtuzumab IV 3x/wk 2014 Relapsing MS

RRMS: Relapsing-remitting MS; SPMS: secondary progressive MS; CIS: clinically isolated syndrome

Please consult product labels for prescribing information on individual therapies.


1. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Medications. Available at:

2. Kuhlmann T, Lingfield G, Bitsch A, Schuchardt J, Bruck W. Acute axonal damage in multiple sclerosis is most extensive in early disease stages and decreases over time. Brain. 2002;125:2202-2212.

3. Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. Treatments for MS. Available at:

4. Mayo Clinic. Multiple Sclerosis. Available at:



Challenges in MS Management


Diagnosis and Symptoms


Additional Reading and Resources


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This