There are currently seven disease-modifying therapies approved
by Health Canada. Five of these medications — Avonex®, Betaseron®, Extavia®, Copaxone® and Rebif® — are
immune modulating medications. The sixth — Tysabri® — is
a selective adhesion molecule inhibitor and the seventh — Gilenya® — the
first oral treatment for MS and a new class of treatment called
a sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator. In large clinical
trials, all of these drugs have been found to have a direct influence
on altering the course of MS. They are sometimes referred to
collectively as disease-modifying therapies.
None of these treatments are a cure, and none will prevent recurring
symptoms, such as fatigue or numbness. However each of them has
a proven record of effectiveness. Unfortunately, no disease-modifying
therapy has yet been approved to treat primary progressive MS — the
type of MS that shows steady progression at onset.
The cost of disease-modifying therapies for MS varies widely,
from about $20,000 to $40,000 per year. The actual cost will
depend on the treatment selected, the dosage, provincial pricing,
pharmacy or clinic costs, dispensing fees, etc.
The MS Society is aware that the level of reimbursement and
access criteria vary from province to province and is working
to ensure that people who could benefit from treatment have access.
For more information about these therapies or for other information
about MS management, please contact your physician, or the nearest
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada division office at 1-800-268-7582.
» Drug Information
Decisions about taking a disease-modifying therapy are best
made by carefully considering and weighing factors including
individual lifestyle, disease course, known side effects, and
the potential risks and benefits of the different therapies.
A full discussion with a knowledgeable health care professional
is the best guide for your decision. Each person’s body
or disease can respond to these medications in different ways.
Neutralizing Antibodies and Interferon Therapies
People taking interferon beta-1a (Avonex or Rebif) or interferon
beta-1b (Betaseron or Extavia) therapies may develop immunity
to the treatment demonstrated by the presence of “neutralizing
antibodies” detected in their blood. Some neurologists
believe that this is an important factor in managing patients
The following chart presents important information
about each of the therapies, which are listed in alphabetical
order of brand name. It is not intended to be a comparison
of the drugs to each other or to endorse or recommend any specific
The drug information contained in this publication
has been obtained from the manufacturers’ product monographs.
Consult the package insert for more
detailed information about the product’s indications, contraindications,
medical use and side effects. If you are taking any of the medications
listed above, do not change the dose or stop taking your medication
without consulting your physician first.
Avonex® is a registered trademark of Biogen Idec Canada Inc.
Betaplus® is a registered trademark of Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals
Betaseron® is a registered trademark of Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals
Copaxone® is a registered trademark of Teva Neuroscience
Extavia® is a registered trademark of Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Gilenya® is a registered trademark of Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Gilenya GO Program® is a registered trademark of Novartis Pharmaceuticals
MS Alliance® is a registered trademark Biogen IDEC Canada
Rebif® is a registered trademark of EMD Serono Canada Inc.
Multiple Support Program® is a registered trademark of EMD Serono
Shared Solutions® is a registered trademark of Teva Neuroscience
Biogen Idec ONEMG is a registered trademark of Biogen Idec Canada Inc.
Tysabri® is a registered trademark of Biogen Idec Canada Inc.
and Elan Pharmaceuticals
Tysabri Care Program® is a registered trademark of Biogen Idec
Canada Inc. and Elan Pharmaceuticals