Living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can present numerous challenges, including mobility issues that affect a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, medical advancements have led to the development of innovative treatments, such as Ampyra (Dalfampridine), which offers hope and improved functionality for individuals with MS. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits, mechanism of action, and frequently asked questions surrounding Ampyra.
First, let’s start off at the basics; What is Ampyra? Ampyra, also known by the generic name Dalfampridine, is an oral medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the improvement of walking ability in people with Multiple Sclerosis. It belongs to a class of drugs known as potassium channel blockers (more on this later).
Ampyra (Dalfampridine) is primarily used for the improvement of walking ability in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Other uses for this drug have been studied as well, such as treating patients with other neurological conditions and improving cognitive function in those with MS. These uses would be considered “off-label” as it specifically targets a symptom known as “walking impairment.” Ampyra is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this purpose and has been shown to enhance walking speed and overall mobility in clinical trials.
Clinical trials have shown that Ampyra can significantly enhance walking speed in people with MS. The medication has demonstrated its effectiveness in increasing the distance individuals can walk in a given amount of time, leading to improved overall functionality and independence. Ampyra can be particularly beneficial for those with a relapsing form of MS who experience walking difficulties as a primary symptom.
In the pivotal clinical trial that led to its FDA approval, Ampyra was evaluated in 301 participants with MS. The study showed that a significantly greater proportion of individuals treated with Ampyra experienced an increase in walking speed compared to those receiving a placebo. Approximately 35-43% of Ampyra-treated patients demonstrated a clinically meaningful improvement in walking speed, whereas only 8-9% of the placebo group achieved similar results.
Furthermore, additional studies and real-world observations have consistently supported the efficacy of Ampyra in improving walking speed and mobility in individuals with MS. Many patients report noticeable improvements, such as increased walking distance, faster walking speed, and enhanced overall functionality.
It is important to note that Ampyra is not a disease-modifying therapy and does not cure MS, but it can be a valuable component of a comprehensive treatment plan for managing MS symptoms.
How Does Ampyra (Dalfampridine) Enhance Walking Ability?
If you’re reading this, you already know that one of the most debilitating symptoms of MS is impaired walking ability. But how can Ampyra help? How does it work? Ampyra works by blocking specific potassium channels in nerve fibers, which helps to restore the conduction of nerve impulses. The way Ampyra works to improve walking function is thought to look something like this;
In individuals with MS, the protective covering called myelin around nerve fibers in the central nervous system can become damaged due to inflammation and immune system attacks. This demyelination disrupts the normal conduction of nerve impulses and can lead to impaired neurological function, including walking difficulties.
Ampyra, as a potassium channel blocker, specifically targets potassium channels that are found on the surface of nerve fibers. These channels play a role in regulating the flow of potassium ions in and out of the nerve cells. By blocking these channels, Ampyra helps to prolong the action potential, which is the electrical signal that travels along the nerve fibers.
When the potassium channels are blocked, Ampyra prevents excessive potassium efflux, meaning it prevents too much potassium from leaving the nerve cells. This inhibition of potassium efflux helps to restore the conduction of nerve impulses by reducing the leakage of electrical signals and enhancing the overall signal strength.
By improving the conduction of nerve impulses, Ampyra can enhance the functionality of the nerves involved in controlling muscle movement and walking, thereby potentially increasing walking speed and mobility in individuals with MS.
It’s important to note that the exact mechanism of action of Ampyra and its effects on nerve conduction are still not fully understood and are the subject of ongoing research.
What are the precautions and Side Effects of Ampyra (Dalfampridine)?
As with any medication, there are important considerations and precautions to be aware of when using Ampyra. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess whether Ampyra is appropriate for your specific situation. Ampyra may not be suitable for individuals with a history of seizures, moderate to severe kidney impairment, or a pre-existing risk of seizures. Additionally, potential side effects can occur and should be discussed with your healthcare provider. While not a complete list, here are some of the most common side effects;
- Seizures: Ampyra increases the risk of seizures in some individuals. This risk is higher in people with a history of seizures or with certain medical conditions that lower the seizure threshold. It is recommended to avoid Ampyra if you have a history of seizures or certain kidney problems.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs): UTIs are more commonly reported in individuals taking Ampyra compared to those on a placebo. Symptoms of UTIs may include frequent urination, pain or burning during urination, and cloudy or bloody urine.
- Insomnia: Some people may experience difficulty sleeping or insomnia while taking Ampyra. It is advised to take the medication earlier in the day to minimize the impact on sleep.
- Dizziness: Dizziness or lightheadedness may occur as a side effect of Ampyra. It is recommended to be cautious while standing up from a sitting or lying position to avoid falls.
- Headache: Headaches are a commonly reported side effect of Ampyra treatment. If headaches become severe or persistent, it is important to consult a healthcare professional.
- Nausea: Some individuals may experience nausea or an upset stomach while taking Ampyra.
- Additional side effects that have been reported with Ampyra include weakness, back pain, balance disorders, burning or tingling sensations, itching, and rash.
What about dietary precautions?
While there are no specific dietary restrictions associated with Ampyra (dalfampridine), it is generally advisable to maintain a balanced and healthy diet while taking any medication. However, it’s important to note that certain factors or foods may interact with medications in general. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:
- Grapefruit and grapefruit juice: Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interact with certain medications, affecting their metabolism and potentially increasing the risk of side effects. However, there is no known interaction between Ampyra and grapefruit, so it is generally safe to consume grapefruit or grapefruit juice while taking Ampyra.
- Alcohol: It is generally recommended to avoid or limit alcohol consumption while taking any medication, as alcohol can have its own effects on the body and may interact with medications. However, there is no specific interaction between Ampyra and alcohol, so moderate alcohol consumption is typically considered acceptable. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional regarding alcohol use and potential interactions with any medication.
- Caffeine: Caffeine is generally well-tolerated while taking Ampyra. However, some individuals may experience increased nervousness, restlessness, or insomnia when consuming excessive amounts of caffeine. It’s important to listen to your body and moderate caffeine intake if you notice any adverse effects.
- Other medications and supplements: It is crucial to inform your healthcare professional about all medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbal products you are taking, as they can potentially interact with Ampyra. Certain medications or supplements may have the potential to affect the metabolism or efficacy of Ampyra, so it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of your medication regimen.
It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist regarding any specific dietary concerns or potential interactions with Ampyra. They can provide personalized guidance based on your individual situation and medical history.
While Ampyra offers significant benefits, it is essential to remember that it is not a cure for multiple sclerosis. It is often used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include other disease-modifying therapies, symptom management strategies, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Adhering to a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a balanced diet, and engaging in regular exercise can also contribute to overall well-being and potentially enhance the benefits of Ampyra.
Ampyra (Dalfampridine) FAQs
What is the Recommended Dosage of Ampyra?
While each person is different and, ultimately, the dose you will specifically need is to be determined by your prescriber, the recommended dosage of Ampyra (dalfampridine) for improving walking ability in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) is a tablet of 10 mg taken orally twice daily, approximately 12 hours apart. Again, this may be different for you, and you should not start, stop, or alter a course of medication without first consulting your doctor.
It is important to follow the prescribed dosage instructions provided by your healthcare professional. Taking more than the recommended dosage does not increase the effectiveness of the medication and may increase the risk of side effects.
Ampyra tablets should be swallowed whole and not crushed, divided, or chewed. It can be taken with or without food.
What if I miss a dose of Ampyra (Dalfampridine)?
If you miss a dose of Ampyra (Dalfampridine), it is generally advised to skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you have questions about your missed dose or how to get back on track with your dosing schedule, please feel free to reach out to a QuickRx Pharmacist at any time and we will gladly help.
Dosage adjustments or different dosing schedules may be necessary depending on individual factors and specific medical conditions. It is essential to consult with your healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage based on your specific circumstances and to ensure safe and effective use of the medication.
Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions and ask any questions you may have about the prescribed dosage or administration of Ampyra. They are the best resource to provide personalized guidance and ensure that Ampyra is used appropriately for your condition.
How long does it take for Ampyra to start working?
The effects of Ampyra (dalfampridine) on walking ability can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience improvements in walking speed and mobility within a few weeks of starting Ampyra, while others may require a longer duration to notice significant changes. It is important to note that not all individuals will respond to Ampyra, and the degree of improvement can also vary. It is recommended to give Ampyra an adequate trial period as advised by your healthcare professional to determine its effectiveness for you.
Is Ampyra covered by insurance and Medicaid?
The coverage of Ampyra by insurance and/or Medicaid plans can vary depending on the specific insurance provider and policy. Some insurance plans may cover Ampyra, while others may have certain restrictions or require prior authorization.
In addition, your personal coverage of Ampyra could fluctuate throughout the year based on whether you have met your traditional insurance deductible or are currently in what’s known as a ‘donut hole’ with Medicaid. This is essentially a yearly gap in prescription drug coverage that is experienced by most people on Medicare Part D (the section of Medicare that covers your prescription drugs).
It is advisable to check with your insurance provider or pharmacist to determine the coverage details and any potential out-of-pocket costs associated with Ampyra. Once you have your prescription, you can feel free to call QuickRx and our team will be most happy to help you navigate your insurance landscape. In fact, when you call our team will even help you out at no cost by seeing if you qualify for Ampyra copay assistance.
What is Ampyra (Dalfampridine) Copay Assistance and How Does it Work?
Did you know that for most medications that come with a significant cost there are a multitude of programs dedicated to helping you afford your copays?! These programs are amazing at cutting costs for patients and in some cases with certain medications and conditions your copay could be as low as zero dollars!
With QuickRx this program couldn’t be any easier to access. Basically, once you contact us and fill out a few forms followed by submitting a few bits of documentation our team will handle the rest! We recognize that these programs can often be difficult to seek out and further difficult to navigate once they’re found. That’s why we’ve done everything we can to make this process as simple as possible for you. If you’re ready to get started with these savings, simply click the button at the bottom of this page or click this link to access the Ampyra Financial Assistance page.
Are there alternatives to Ampyra for improving walking ability in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
There are alternative treatment options available for improving walking ability in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). These alternatives may include:
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy and rehabilitation programs, including exercises, gait training, and assistive devices, can help improve walking ability and overall mobility in individuals with MS.
- Disease-modifying therapies: Disease-modifying therapies for MS, such as interferons, glatiramer acetate, or newer oral or infusion medications, can help manage the underlying disease process and potentially slow down the progression of MS, which may indirectly improve walking ability.
- Symptom management: Other medications or interventions may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms that affect walking ability, such as spasticity (muscle stiffness) or fatigue.
It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional specializing in MS, such as a neurologist or physiatrist, to discuss the available options and determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on your individual needs, disease course, and overall health. They can evaluate your specific situation and recommend the best approach to improve walking ability and manage MS symptoms effectively.
Ampyra has emerged as a promising medication for people living with multiple sclerosis, offering renewed hope and improved walking ability. By targeting the conduction of nerve impulses, Ampyra has the potential to enhance mobility, increase walking speed, and improve functionality. However, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if Ampyra is suitable for your individual circumstances and to discuss potential side effects and considerations. With the right approach and comprehensive care, Ampyra can be an important tool in the management of MS symptoms, contributing to a better quality of life for those affected by this challenging condition.