Five of the FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies are administered by intravenous (IV) infusion, typically at an infusion center. Infused DMTs are given much less frequently than oral medications (taken once or more per day) and those injected under the skin (once or more each week).
Many people with multiple sclerosis who are considering treatment with an infused DMT are curious about how often they’ll need to visit the infusion site to receive the medication.
“How often do you get infusions?” one member asked. Another replied, “Two infusions a year for me — October and April are my infusion months.”
Read on to learn more about DMTs and how frequently they are infused.
DMTs disrupt immune cell attacks on myelin — the fatty sheath that coats and protects the nervous system fibers. Without myelin, these axons (nerve fibers) cannot send electrical signals from one part of the brain to another. An area of the brain with no myelin is a plaque, which can be seen on MRI. A plaque can be temporary or permanent. DMTs prevent plaque formation by blocking immune cells.
MS infusion treatments can help you manage relapsing forms of MS, including relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), and active secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). In some cases, they’re used for reducing disease activity in people with primary progressive MS (PPMS).
The following five medications have been approved by the FDA as disease-modifying therapies for treating MS:
The specific DMT that your neurologist recommends will depend on your symptoms, treatment goals and preferences, the possibility of side effects, and other health conditions you have. You’ll discuss all treatment options with your neurology team, but the final decision is up to you.
How often you’ll need to go to the infusion center for treatment depends on the DMT you’re taking. The following chart shows the infusion schedules for the five infused DMTs approved to treat MS.
|IV Infusion DMTs for MS
|Five days in a row, then three days one year later
|Two infusions two weeks apart, then every 24 weeks
|Two infusions two weeks apart, then every six months
|Every three months
You may be asked to time your infusions around treatments you take for other conditions. In addition, your neurologist may ask you to perform a pretreatment routine, such as drinking more water and taking oral medications and supplements at specific intervals around your infusion. Always tell your doctor about any therapies you’re taking, including vitamins or herbal supplements, in case they may interact negatively with your DMT or other MS medication.
When you get your infusion, the staff members at the clinic will monitor you for infusion reactions and other common side effects.
Read more about managing side effects of infused MS medications.
MyMSTeam members often talk about the optimism they feel when they’re scheduled for a DMT infusion, and they also discuss how their infusions are timed. “I get so excited when my infusions come around,” one member wrote. “They give me hope and really help me.”
“I’ve been hoping for an MS cure for 35 years now,” a member said. “All I can say is I’m thankful to be receiving infusions every six months at the infusion center.” Another member replied, “Me too — I have Tysabri infusions every four weeks.”
Some members have shared elation about the convenience of getting MS treatments infrequently. “My first infusion was smooth and painless,” one MyMSTeam member said. “I really like the idea of going twice a year. I have another infusion next week, and then my next one is in six months.”
It’s important to share your infusion goals with your neurology care team so they can help you find an infusion center close to your home that’s convenient for you.
Read about copay assistance and help with MS infusion cost.
MyMSTeam is the social network for people living with MS and their loved ones. By joining, you gain a community of over 197,000 people who come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their experience living with MS.
Are disease-modifying therapies part of your treatment plan for MS? How do you manage your infusion schedule? Share your experience in the comments below or on your Activities page. Your story may help others who are taking DMTs.