(BPT) - Do you know the facts about multiple sclerosis, or MS? An estimated 400,000 Americans are living with this chronic disease, and countless others support loved ones with MS.i Yet, you can be sure many people have misconceptions about the impact of getting diagnosed with MS.
Dr. Peter Wade, Medical Director for Neurology at the Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research in Hartford, CT helps us separate fact from fiction:
- Myth: Having MS means you can't be physically active.Exercise may be beneficial for maintaining one's health. Common symptoms of MS, including fatigue, lack of strength and cognitive and mood issues, may be reduced in some instances by regular exercise.ii Patients should consult their physicians for any guidelines or modifications needed for an MS-friendly exercise program.
- Myth: MS means you can't start a family.My advice is that women with MS who wish to have children should always consult their physician about family planning. However, the idea that MS means you can't start a family is false. Studies show fertility is generally not affected by MS. In addition, pregnancy does not appear to influence the progression of disability associated with MS.iii
- Myth: There are few treatment options for people with relapsing MS.Twenty years ago, this would have been true. Today, there are more than 10 FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies available for patients with relapsing forms of MS (RMS), including a recently approved therapy called PLEGRIDY™ (peginterferon beta-1a),iv which in a clinical trial showed significant reductions in important measures of disease activity. It can be administered subcutaneously with the PLEGRIDY PEN, a new, ready-to-use autoinjector, or a prefilled syringe.
While we've only covered a few of the common misconceptions about MS, I encourage you to talk to your physician about any questions or concerns you may have. It is important for people living with MS and their caregivers to know the facts, and I'm sure your doctor would be more than happy to help.
Patient Dosing Administration:
Your healthcare provider should show you how to inject PLEGRIDY before you use it for the first time. Your healthcare provider may tell you to slowly increase your dose. PLEGRIDY is given by injection under the skin. Rotate the injection site to decrease the chance that you will have an injection site reaction. You may be able to manage flu-like symptoms with premedication.
The most common adverse reactions (incidence ≥10 percent) were injection site erythema, influenza-like illness, pyrexia, headache, myalgia, chills, injection site pain, asthenia, injection site pruritus, and arthralgia.
PLEGRIDY™ (peginterferon beta-1a) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Important Safety Information
Before beginning treatment, you should discuss with your healthcare provider the potential benefits and risks associated with PLEGRIDY.
PLEGRIDY can cause serious side effects. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below.
- Liver problems, or worsening of liver problems including liver failure and death. Symptoms may include yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eye, nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness, bleeding more easily than normal, confusion, sleepiness, dark colored urine, and pale stools. During your treatment with PLEGRIDY you will need to see your healthcare provider regularly. You will have regular blood tests to check for these possible side effects
- Depression or suicidal thoughts. Symptoms may include new or worsening depression (feeling hopeless or bad about yourself), thoughts of hurting yourself or suicide, irritability (getting upset easily), nervousness, or new or worsening anxiety
Do not take PLEGRIDY if youare allergic to interferon beta or peginterferon beta-1a, or any of the other ingredients in PLEGRIDY.
Before taking PLEGRIDY, tell your healthcare provider if you:
- Are being treated for a mental illness or had treatment in the past for any mental illness, including depression and suicidal behavior
- Have or had liver problems, low blood cell counts, bleeding problems, heart problems, seizures (epilepsy), thyroid problems, or any kind of autoimmune disease
- Take prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements
- Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if PLEGRIDY will harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant during your treatment with PLEGRIDY
- Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if PLEGRIDY passes into your breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby if you use PLEGRIDY
PLEGRIDY can cause additional serious side effects including:
- Serious allergic reactions. Serious allergic reactions can happen quickly. Symptoms may include itching, swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, or throat, trouble breathing, feeling faint, anxiousness, skin rash, hives, or skin bumps
- Injection site reactions. PLEGRIDY may commonly cause redness, pain or swelling at the place where the injection was given. Call your healthcare provider right away if an injection site becomes swollen and painful or the area looks infected and it does not heal within a few days. You may have a skin infection or an area of severe skin damage (necrosis) requiring treatment by a healthcare provider
- Heart problems, including congestive heart failure. While PLEGRIDY is not known to have any direct effects on the heart, some people who did not have a history of heart problems developed heart muscle problems or congestive heart failure after taking interferon beta. If you already have heart failure, PLEGRIDY may cause your heart failure to get worse. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have worsening symptoms of heart failure such as shortness of breath or swelling of your lower legs or feet while using PLEGRIDY
- Some people using PLEGRIDY may have other heart problems, including low blood pressure, fast or abnormal heart beat, chest pain, heart attack, or a heart muscle problem (cardiomyopathy)
- Autoimmune diseases. Problems with easy bleeding or bruising (idiopathic thrombocytopenia), thyroid gland problems (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism), and autoimmune hepatitis have happened in some people who use interferon beta
- Blood problems and changes in your blood tests. PLEGRIDY can decrease your white blood cells or platelets, which can cause an increased risk of infection, bleeding or anemia, and can cause changes in your liver function tests. Your healthcare provider should do blood tests while you use PLEGRIDY to check for side effects
- Seizures. Some people have had seizures while taking PLEGRIDY, including people who have never had seizures before
The most common side effects of PLEGRIDY include:
- Flu-like symptoms. Many people who take PLEGRIDY have flu-like symptoms early in the course of therapy. These symptoms are not really the flu. You cannot pass it on to anyone else. Symptoms may include headache, muscle and joint aches, fever, chills or tiredness
- You may be able to manage these flu-like symptoms by taking over-the-counter pain and fever reducers and drinking plenty of water. For many people, these symptoms lessen or go away over time
iMultiple Sclerosis Foundation. Facts About MS. http://www.msfocus.org/Facts-About-MS.aspx. Date accessed: December 18, 2014.
ii White, et al. Exercise and multiple sclerosis. Sports Medicine. 2004; 34(15): 1077-1100.
iii Hellwig, K. Pregnancy in multiple sclerosis. European Neurology, 2014; 72:39-42.
iv NMSS. Treating MS. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Treating-MS/Medications. Date accessed: December 18, 2014.