If you’ve been reading me for some time, you can finally open the champagne bottle. After I-don’t-even-know-how-many-months waiting, at last I’m starting a new medication. Tecfidera is here. It looks like this:
(Dear Tecfidera, will you be nice to me?)
So what do we know about Tecfidera?
- Like many other MS drugs, it was discovered more or less by chance. Dymethil fumarate was used to treat psoriasis, another autoimmune disease, for decades before its anti-inflammatory profile led researchers to study its benefits over other conditions.
- Like many other MS drugs, no one really knows how it works. They suspect it either helps reduce the number of inflammatory cells in the body or it helps inflammatory cells become less aggressive. However, for now, these are conjectures as no one knows for sure.
- Like many other MS drugs, it works for some people but not for others. Again, no one knows why.
- It is considered more effective than the injectables and Aubagio, but less effective than Gilenya, Tysabri or Lemtrada.
- So far there have been two confirmed cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, the often fatal brain infection that haunts MSers, associated with Tecfidera.
- Common side effects include flushing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. Although these are known to subside after some time, my doctor says some of his patients had to abandon the clinical trials due to the severity of the effects.
Some time ago I found this article on MSology.ca that suggests useful tips to help manage the most common side effects, check it out here: http://msology.ca/managing-the-‘tec-effect’
During the first month I’ll be taking the lower dose of 120 mg. This dose doesn’t do much to fight MS but it helps the body get used to the drug without major complications. Then on the first week of October I’ll start taking the full recommended dose and from then on I’ll just need to periodically take blood and urine tests to see if everything’s alright. Tecfidera may affect kidney function and lower the white blood cells count, so it’s important to check those.
I took my first pill with dinner tonight and I’ve been sitting here waiting for the infamous flushing and stomach pain. But so far so good. I think I’m going to bed then. Tomorrow is MRI day. I’ll keep you up to speed. Good night.