Tecfidera, also known by its drug name, Dimethyl fumarate, is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults. Some people may also know Tecfidera by its former name, BG-12. Tecfidera is not a cure for MS, but it can decrease the number of flare-ups and may help delay or prevent disability.
For people who often experience nausea or diarrhea, Tecfidera may worsen these conditions. It may not be suitable for pregnant women or nursing mothers; consult your doctor in these situations.
Tecfidera is an immunomodulatory drug; in other words, it modulates the immune system. It is thought that Tecfidera decreases the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells) in your body, thereby reducing the autoimmune attack on the nervous system.
How do I take it?
Before beginning treatment with Tecfidera your doctor may order a complete blood count (CBC) to check your white blood cells. This will help assess any side effects.
Tecfidera is taken orally twice a day as a capsule, with or without food. Taking it with food may decrease the side effect of skin flushing. It is important to swallow the capsule whole; the drug will not work properly if it is crushed or sprinkled on food. Your doctor may start you on a low dose and increase the dosage after seven days.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Tecfidera.
In one two-year study, those who took Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) experienced a 49 percent reduction in the risk for relapse compared with those who took a placebo.
Since Tecfidera affects the immune system, people taking Tecfidera have a greater risk for contracting infections, including serious infections. While you are taking Tecfidera, take extra precautions against infection such as washing hands frequently and avoiding those with spreadable infections such as the flu, chickenpox or measles, and those who have recently received vaccinations with live viruses. Consult your doctor before receiving any vaccinations, including flu shots.
The most common symptoms people experience on Tecfidera are skin and stomach problems. Skin issues may include flushing, redness, and itching or burning sensations. Stomach issues may include nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting. All of these symptoms often decrease after taking the drug for a while.
Seek medical help immediately if you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction such as trouble breathing, severe dizziness, a rash, or itching or swelling of the face, tongue, and throat.