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What Is Dimethyl Fumarate Used For?

If you have a certain type of multiple sclerosis, you may receive dimethyl fumarate. This prescription drug is thought to work by helping with inflammation and protecting cells from damage caused by multiple sclerosis. Dimethyl fumarate is approved for use in adults only; however, it should be used with caution in older adults (age 65 and older).

 

An Overview of Uses for Dimethyl Fumarate

Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera™) is a prescription medication approved to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Dimethyl fumarate was known as BG-12 when it was being developed. It is still sometimes referred to by this name.
 

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a long-term (chronic) disease of the central nervous system. It occurs when the body's immune system attacks areas of the brain, spinal cord, or optic nerve (the nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain), causing inflammation. This inflammation damages the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. The nerves themselves can also become damaged.
 
The damaged myelin forms scar tissue, known as sclerosis, which is how the condition gets its name. When myelin is damaged, nerve impulses carrying messages between the brain and the body are slowed or stopped. This leads to the symptoms of MS.
 
Any nerve in the central nervous system can be affected by MS. In general, symptoms can vary, depending on the location and severity of the nerve and myelin damage. Some of the more common symptoms may include:
   
(Click Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis to learn about other possible signs of this condition.)
 
Most people with MS have relapsing forms of the disease. This means they go through episodes when their symptoms are worse (called relapses, attacks, or flare-ups). These episodes can last from days to weeks and alternate with periods of time when little to no symptoms occur (remissions). Normally, the disease does not progress during periods of remission. However, in rare forms, the condition progressively worsens even in times when symptoms are less severe.
 
(Click Types of Multiple Sclerosis to learn more about relapsing forms of MS, as well as other forms.)
 
There is no cure for MS. However, treatment can help manage symptoms, reduce the number of attacks, and slow down the progression of the disease (see Multiple Sclerosis Treatment).
 
As mentioned, dimethyl fumarate is approved to treat the relapsing forms of MS. In clinical studies, it reduced the frequency of relapses by as much as 53 percent, compared with a placebo (a "sugar pill" with no active ingredient). It also reduced the risk for disability progression by as much as 38 percent. Dimethyl fumarate is one of only a few MS medicines taken by mouth instead of given as an injection.
 
Know the Signs - Concussion Safety

Dimethyl Fumarate Drug Information

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