Skip to main content

Treatments

Disease modifying therapies (DMTs) are medications which have been shown to decrease the inflammation, frequency and severity of MS attacks or relapses, and thus slow the progression of disability in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).

Australia is very fortunate as we have PBS subsidised access to all of the current MS therapies. This allows for treatment decisions to be tailored to the individual and for switching between therapies if it is felt necessary due to continued condition activity, relapses or adverse side effects.

Currently DMTs are only available for RRMS; however clinical trials are under way testing therapies for the treatment of progressive MS. There are also a number of new therapies in the pipeline and we recommend you discuss treatments with your neurologist.

There is very little research evidence as to the safety of using DMTs during pregnancy and breast feeding. For this reason, treatment is generally suspended during this time; however, your neurologist will discuss both contraception and family planning with you.

It is important to discuss your treatment options thoroughly with your neurologist; this allows you to make informed decisions regarding the treatment/s best suited to you. The MSWA Nursing Team has up to date information and extensive experience with all of these products. Our MS nurse can provide training, and side effect management advice, for all of the DMTs currently available.

There are currently twelve treatment options available for RRMS*, these are: 

Zinbryta (daclizumab)

Zinbryta is registered for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS to delay the progression of physical disability and to reduce the frequency of relapses. Given as a monthly injection, it releases an antibody that blocks the activity of interleukin-2, a chemical messenger of the immune system. It interferes with the activation and growth of immune cells that attack nerve cells to produce episodes of relapsing remitting MS. A fact sheet on Zinbryta is available here

Beta interferons

Beta interferons have been shown to slow down activity and disease progression in MS. They do this by helping regulate the immune system, reducing attacks on myelin or nerves. The following medications are PBS listed:

  • Avonex® (beta interferon 1a) given by intramuscular injection weekly
  • Rebif® (beta interferon 1a) given by injection into the skin 3 times per week
  • Betaferon® (beta interferon 1b) given by injection into the skin on alternate days.

Plegridy® (peginterferon beta -1a)

Plegridy is given once a fortnight by injection into the skin. Pegylation prolongs the circulation time of the molecule in the body by increasing its size, thus enabling a longer half-life, stabilising the molecule by improving its solubility and shielding the molecule from enzymes in the body that try to break it down into smaller particles.

Glatiramer acetate

Copaxone® 20mg (glatiramer acetate)

Copaxone® 20mg is given by sub cutaneous injection daily into the skin. It is thought to lessen the immune reaction that attacks myelin and reduces relapse rates by approximately one third.

This is a PBS listed medication.

Copaxone® 40mg (glatiramer acetate)

Copaxone® 20mg is given by sub cutaneous injection daily into the skin. It is thought to lessen the immune reaction that attacks myelin and reduces relapse rates by approximately one third.

This is a PBS listed medication.

Tysabri® (natalizumab)

Tysabri® is a monoclonal antibody given by intravenous infusion every 4 weeks. It is thought to work by binding to the white blood cells and preventing them from moving across the blood brain barrier into the brain and spinal cord.

Studies have shown that Tysabri® reduces the occurrence of relapse by around two thirds, and significantly reduces the rate of disease progression. However, there have been reported cases of severe side effects. It is a PBS listed medication.

Gilenya® (fingolimod)

This treatment is for people with relapsing-remitting MS and is a daily oral capsule, which is covered by the PBS. Gilenya® has been shown in clinical trials to reduce the frequency of relapses and delay the progression of physical disability. There is also evidence to suggest it may assist in the remyelination of damaged nerve cells. It is a PBS listed medication.

Aubagio® (Teriflunomide)

Aubagio® is a daily oral tablet that has been shown to reduce the frequency of relapses and delay progression of physical disability in patients with RRMS. It is thought to exert its effect on MS by reducing the number of white blood cells reaching the central nervous system.

Aubagio® is a PBS listed medication.

Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate)

Previously known in trials as BG-12, this oral treatment is for RRMS. Tecfidera® has been shown to have both anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective properties.

Clinical trials have shown it can reduce relapse rates and delay the progression of disability in people with relapsing-remitting MS.

It is a PBS listed medication.

Lemtrada® (alemtuzumab)

Lemtrada® is new and aggressive form of treatment used for relapsing forms of MS in adults with active RRMS. It is not recommended for patients who are stable and not experiencing relapses or progression.

Lemtrada® is given by intravenous infusion in two treatment courses one year apart. The first course consists of infusions given daily over five consecutive days. The second course consists of daily infusions given over three days. Regular, ie monthly, monitoring for side effects must continue for four years after the last infusion.

In clinical trials, it was shown to reduce the frequency of relapses when compared with interferon beta treatment, and delay the progression of disability in some people when compared to interferon beta treatment. It is not currently available in Australia, except through clinical trials.

This is a PBS listed medication.

*Not all medications are suitable for all people with the condition. We strongly recommend you consult your neurologist to discuss treatment options.

Show your support

With your support, MSWA are delivering real things to real people living with neurological conditions in Western Australia.

It is easy to show your support. You can buy a raffle ticket, a lottery ticket, even an entertainment book, or simply donate.


Find out more.