What is Tecfidera?
Dimethyl fumarate which is marketed under the brand name, Tecfidera is a prescription medication used to treat adults with various relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, including clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that involves a dysfunction of the nerves that results in a host of various symptoms such as weakness, numbness, loss of muscle coordination as well as difficulties with speech, vision and incontinence.
Although it is not considered a cure for MS, Tecfidera is classified as a disease-modifying therapy for the treatment of MS in that it can help decrease the number of relapses or episodes of MS a patient experiences. It can decrease the risk of MS relapse in a patient by up to 49 percent over the course of 2 years, as well as lessen the risk of further regression of physical disability by approximately 38 percent.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a relapsing form of multiple sclerosis, the prescription medication Tecfidera may be able to help. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this medication.
How Does Tecfidera Work?
Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath of nerve cells causing dysfunctioning of the nerves. Tecfidera is a medication that belongs to a class of medications known as Nrf2 activators. Dimethyl fumarate, the active ingredient in Tecfidera, works by helping reduce inflammation in the body and prevent further damage to the nerve cells caused by the immune system attacking the myelin sheath. By protecting the nerve cells from damage, Tecfidera may help reduce symptoms of multiple sclerosis as well as lessen the risk of relapse or frequency of episodes of the disease.
How is Tecfidera Taken?
It is vital that you take your prescription Tecfidera as per the recommendations of your doctor and the instructions on the prescription label. Your doctor will determine the best dosage of the medication for you based on a variety of factors including your tolerance level, and any other medications you are currently taking, etc.
Tecfidera is taken orally with or without food usually twice a day. It is common that your doctor will advise that you start taking the medication at a lower dose and up your dosage after 7 days. Taking the drug in combination with food or taking a plain aspirin (non-enteric coated) 30 minutes before taking the medication may help reduce a possible side effect of flushing.
Tecfidera capsules are to be swallowed whole; avoid opening, crushing, or chewing the capsule which can release the whole drug at once, elevating the risk of its side effects. It is important to take the medication as regularly as possible, around the same time of day to ensure the highest efficacy.
Important Things to Know About Tecfidera:
- Avoid taking this medication if you ever had a serious allergic reaction to dimethyl fumarate or diroximel fumarate (Vumerity)
- Consult with your doctor if you ever had an active infection or low white blood cell counts.
- Consult with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You may be placed on a pregnancy registry to monitor the effects of the drug on the baby.
- This medication is not approved for those younger than 18 years old.
Possible Side Effects of Tecfidera
Keep in mind that if you have been prescribed Tecfidera, your doctor has determined that its possible benefits it can offer you outweigh the risk of its potential side effects. It is not common to experience serious side effects while taking this medication. If you do experience any side effects for a prolonged period of time or if they worsen in severity, be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.
Possible side effects of Tecfidera include flushing/ warmth, redness, itching, and a burning feeling of the skin. As mentioned before, taking the drug in combination with food may reduce the side effect of flushing. You may also experience stomach/ abdominal pain, or other symptoms of stomach upset such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. These side effects will typically improve or wear off as your body adapts to the effects of the medication.
Tecifdera may hurt your body’s ability to fight off infections. Therefore, while taking this medication, you may be more susceptible to a potentially severe (seldomly fatal) infection or worsen any existing infections you may already have. It is important that you tell your doctor immediately if you experience any of these signs of possible infection: fever, chills, sore throat that persists for a prolonged period of time, cough, blisters.
Also, be sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of these more severe, serious side effects, including: symptoms of liver damage (such as persistent nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach/ abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/ skin, dark urine).
While experiencing a severe allergic reaction while taking this medication is rare, contact your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms that may indicate a severe allergic reaction: rash, itching/ swelling (of the face, tongue or throat) , severe dizziness or difficulty breathing.