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Key terms

This section provides brief definitions of some of the key terms used throughout MS Decisions. For more detail on each of these terms, please click on the name to see the full definition.

Aubagio (teriflunomide) 

A disease modifying drug that is taken as a pill once a day.

Avonex (interferon beta 1a)

A disease modifying drug that is self-injected into muscle once a week.

Betaferon (interferon beta 1b)

A disease modifying drug that is self-injected under the skin every other day.

Clinical trial

A research study that tests new treatments. It compares one treatment with another to find out if the new treatment is better than what is already available. 

Clinically isolated syndrome

An individual's first episode of neurological symptoms lasting at least 24 hours. Can be an indicator of what may turn out to be multiple sclerosis.

Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) 

A disease modifying drug that is self-injected under the skin every day or three times a week at a higher dose.

Disease modifying drug 

Disease modifying drugs are a group of treatments for people with multiple sclerosis who experience relapses. They reduce the number and severity of relapses.

Extavia (interferon beta 1b) 

A disease modifying drug that is self-injected under the skin every other day.

Gilenya (fingolimod)

A disease modifying drug that is taken as a pill once a day.

Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) 

A disease modifying drug that is taken as an intravenous infusion (drip) in hospital in two treatment courses. The first course consists of infusions on five consecutive days, the second course is taken 12 months later and consists of infusions on three consecutive days.

MS Decisions

Is a guide and interactive tool to the disease modifying drugs approved for treating relapsing multiple sclerosis in the UK.

Neutralising antibodies 

Antibodies that are produced against drugs entering the body, reducing (or neutralising) the drug's effectiveness.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

The independent organisation responsible for providing guidance and appraising new medicines for use by the NHS in England and Wales.

No evidence of disease activity

A new goal that is emerging in multiple sclerosis treatment. The aim is to treat people with relapsing remitting MS with disease modifying drugs to reach a point where they are having no relapses, no increase in disability and no new or active (enhancing) lesions.

Plegridy (peginterferon beta 1a)

A disease modifying drug that is self-injected under the skin once every two weeks.

Rebif (interferon beta 1a)

A disease modifying drug that is self-injected under the skin three times a week.

Relapse

The sudden appearance of a new symptom or the reappearance of old symptoms in the absence of any infection, lasting at least 24 hours. Sometimes referred to as an attack, a flare up, an episode or an exacerbation.

Relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis

The most common type of MS. The name reflects the pattern of MS which alternates between having periods of symptom flare ups or attacks known as relapses and being in remission, when symptoms have improved or may have gone away completely.

Risk-sharing scheme

Introduced in 2002 to ensure the availability the disease modifying drug therapies, beta interferon and glatiramer acetate, on the NHS to people with certain types of multiple sclerosis.

Primary progressive multiple sclerosis

A type of MS where it is very rare to have any relapses and disability increases from the beginning. 

Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC)

Appraises new and existing medicines and treatments for use by the NHS in Scotland.

Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

A proportion of people initially diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS will develop secondary progressive MS meaning they have fewer or no relapses but have a gradual increase in disability over time. 

Side effects

Unwanted effects caused by a medical treatment.

Silently active MS

Inflammation in MS that causes lesions or changes which are visible on MRI scans but do not result in a relapse or any noticeable symptoms. 

Steroids

The standard treatment for a relapse in multiple sclerosis, taken either as a course of pills or by intravenous infusion (drip) in hospital.  

Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate)

A disease modifying drug that is taken as a pill twice a day.

Tysabri (natalizumab)

A disease modifying drug that is taken as an intravenous infusion (drip) in hospital once every four weeks

MS Decisions

MS Decisions

Compare the different types of Disease Modifying Drugs (DMDs) that are available to treat relapsing MS.

Compare MS treatments

Use our MS Decisions aid to help filter and compare drugs, and select treatments options for relapsing MS.

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