Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New pill on the block

Jennifer LaRue Huget

I was thrilled to see that another oral therapy for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis* has been approved by the FDA. With the arrival of Tecfidera (formerly "BG-12"), which should be available by prescription any time now, there are three oral therapies and a total of 10 disease-modifying treatments available in the U.S.

When I was diagnosed in 2001, there were just four therapies available. I take the fact that that number has more than doubled – and that options have expanded to include oral therapies in addition to the injectables – as a sign of the progress science has made in tackling this mysterious disease.

Having a new oral therapy on the market also makes me wonder, as I have several times in the past, whether I would be inclined to trade my daily injections for pills. I have been on the same therapy since I was diagnosed, and I have to say I’ve grown pretty attached to it.

Not that I like the big dents in my legs where the shots I give myself have degraded the underlying tissue. Nor am I a huge fan of the blue bruises on the undersides of my upper arms that mark the spots of those injection sites. And sometimes the shots I give myself in my belly just plain hurt. But I am thankful that I have never had a problem with my medication – and double triple thankful that the stuff, knock on wood, seems to be doing a great job at keeping my disease at bay.

Such a great job, in fact, that I don’t think I’d be inclined to switch to an oral therapy just for the convenience of it. But for all my fellow MSers whose therapies aren’t proving sufficient, and for all those newly diagnosed people who are sorting through their therapeutic options, I’m thrilled that this new pill’s available and that more are on the way.

You can read more about Tecfidera here and about the full array of MS therapies here.

*People with relapsing-remitting MS and people with secondary-progressive MS and progressive-relapsing MS who continue to have relapses

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her Web site is


  1. Jennifer,

    You must be on Copaxone. I am too. In reading the study results, Copaxone did just as well as BG-12. However, this is the first oral drug that actually had me question my injectable. Yet I have decided to stick with Copaxone. Since my dx in 2009 I have had no relapses and am doing well.

    Thank you for your viewpoint! It was helpful and affirming.

  2. I have thought about this a lot. I would not give up a medicine that is working for another medicine just because the other medicine is taken by mouth instead of by injection. The difficulties of injections are real bu over-rated compared to the protection they deliver. Copaxone does not work for me, I am immune to Betaseron and I am JC virus positive, so this new medicine is great news for me. I hope it works.

  3. I have recently decided to go off my Copaxone as well because I was also tired of the pain and all of the bruises that I had with my injection sights. On top of that I also began getting the indents in my skin as well. I have to say that the straw that broke the camels back was definitely when I went on vacation with my husband and kids last summer and I began to notice people staring at the bruises from the injection sights and then turning and looking at my husband like I was the victim of domestic violence. After that I had it with the injectables the Copaxone as well as Betaserone. Neither of them showed any real improvement with the progression of this disease. I finally decided that I was going to give the oral medication a shot, last Wednesday I began taking Gilenya and really thought that I had made a mistake because I began to feel worse than before. However I am on my 6th day of the medicine and I feel better than I have ever felt since my diagnosis. I can understand that this may not be the case with everyone but for me I really feel like I made a great decision