A tale of 3 injections

In order to work properly, multiple sclerosis (MS) medications need to reach your bloodstream. Most of the disease-modifying medications for MS, which help to slow the progression of the disease, cannot be given by mouth because the body will break them down before they can get into the bloodstream.

To avoid this problem, most disease-modifying medications are given by injection (note that there are disease-modifying medications that are taken by mouth; examples are Gilenya® (fingolimod), Tecfidera™ (dimethyl fumarate) and Fampyra™ (fampridine). There are different types of injections that are used to give MS medications: subcutaneous (SC), intramuscular (IM), and intravenous (IV) injections.

SC injections are given under the skin. The medication moves through the tissue to enter the bloodstream. With appropriate training, people can learn to give themselves this type of injection at home. Disease-modifying MS medications given by SC injection include:

  • Rebif® (interferon beta-1a)
  • Betaseron® (interferon beta-1b)
  • Extavia® (interferon beta-1b)
  • Copaxone® (glatiramer)

IM injections are given into a muscle. The medication enters the bloodstream through the blood supply to the muscle. After proper training, people can learn to give themselves an IM injection at home. Disease-modifying MS medications given by IM injection include:

  • Avonex® (interferon beta-1a)

IV infusions are slow injections or "drips" given directly into a vein. With an IV infusion, the medication enters directly into the bloodstream. IV infusions are given in a hospital or clinic by a healthcare professional such as a nurse or a doctor. Disease-modifying MS medications given by IV infusion include:

  • Tysabri® (natalizumab)

If your doctor has prescribed an MS medication that is taken by injection, make sure you understand what type of injection will be used, how and where it will be given, and what side effects to watch for. If the idea of injections makes you uneasy, see "Overcoming self-injection anxiety."

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/How-MS-Medications-Are-Given

Self-injection safety

Some MS medications are given by injections just under the skin (subcutaneous injection) or into a muscle (intramuscular injection). To learn more, see "A tale of 3 injections."

Many people can learn to inject these types of MS medications at home by themselves. This is called self-injection. From prefilled syringes to an auto-injector device, if you are planning to self-inject, safety and proper training are very important.

Here are some tips on self-injection safety:

  • When you're learning to self-inject, don't be embarrassed to ask questions to make sure you understand exactly how to inject the medication. If you're not comfortable with any part of the self-injection process, or if you're feeling unsure about anything, ask your doctor.
  • Before you self-inject for the first time, be prepared: go through the process once in your head to make sure you know exactly how to do it, then assemble all of the materials you will need for the injection in one place. Have a number you can call, such as your doctor, nurse, or MS support line, in case you run into any problems.
  • If you miss a dose of your medication, contact your doctor or pharmacist to find out what to do next.

Most injections can cause some mild side effects, including mild bruising at the injection site, pain just after injection, and mild swelling and irritation around the injection site. Other symptoms may be a sign of a more serious problem.

Contact your healthcare professional if you notice any of the following:

  • swelling, warmth, redness, and discharge around the injection site
  • lumps, hollow areas, firm knots, discolouration, or pain around the injection site
  • skin rash found not just at the injection site, but at different sites on the body
  • hives, swelling of the face or throat, or difficulty breathing

Most manufacturers of MS medications offer a toll-free support line that can assist you with questions about the medication, including self-injection. Support programs may also be available to offer you more information on MS and the medication you are using. Check with your doctor or nurse to find out if there is a toll-free support number for your medication.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/How-MS-Medications-Are-Given

All about infusions

An IV infusion is a method of giving medication into the bloodstream through a slow injection, or "drip," into a vein. "IV" stands for intravenous, which means "into a vein." IV infusions are used for medications that cannot reliably get into the bloodstream when given by other methods. Some MS medications are given by infusion, including:

  • Tysabri® (natalizumab) – an MS treatment that is generally used for people who cannot take other MS treatments or in cases where other treatments have not worked. It is given to reduce the risk of relapses, slow the progression of disability, and reduce the number and size of damaged areas in the brain for people with the relapsing-remitting form of MS. Tysabri is given as an IV infusion over one hour, once every 4 weeks.
  • Solu-Medrol® (methylprednisolone) – used to treat MS relapses. It works by reducing inflammation in the brain. The length of time for the infusion depends on the dose.

Since most doctors' offices are not equipped to give medications by infusion, infusions of MS medications are often given in an MS infusion center. This specialized clinic is staffed by doctors and nurses with experience and in-depth knowledge in MS treatment and infusions.

Here's what happens during a typical infusion:

  • Before the infusion, a nurse or doctor will review your MS symptoms, ask some questions to ensure that the medication is still safe and appropriate for you, and check your vital signs (your pulse, blood pressure, breathing rate, and temperature).
  • Next, you will sit in a comfortable chair, the nurse will insert a needle into a vein in your arm, and the medication will be given as slowly into the vein.
  • During your infusion, you will be monitored by a healthcare professional to check for side effects, allergic reactions or problems with the infusion. Let your health professional know if you become uncomfortable or notice any symptoms that worry you.
  • To pass the time during your infusion, you can read, watch TV, listen to music, or chat with others who are having their infusions at the centre.
  • After the infusion, you will need to remain in the infusion centre for a while to make sure you are not having any reactions to the medication.

Most manufacturers of MS medications offer a toll-free support line that can assist you with questions about the medication. Support programs may also be available to offer you more information relating to MS and the medication you are using. Check with your doctor or nurse to find out if there is a toll-free support number for your medication.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/How-MS-Medications-Are-Given

Overcoming self-injection anxiety

Afraid of injections? It's natural to be a bit nervous before an injection. But for some people, the fear of injections (also called injection anxiety) is much stronger and may even prevent them from receiving the treatment they need.

Self-injection anxiety – the fear of giving yourself an injection – can be an important issue for people with MS, since some MS medications are given by self-injection after proper training by a doctor or nurse. Self-injection anxiety can get in the way of MS treatment, and people who suffer from this problem are more likely to stop taking their medications or not use them properly.

What causes self-injection anxiety? The anxiety may be related to a variety of factors, including the size and length of the needle, a history of unpleasant side effects from injections in the past, or the fact that starting MS treatment acknowledges the disease and makes it a reality in a person's life.

Fortunately, there are ways to cope. Specially trained support nurses can help people overcome their anxiety about giving themselves an injection. During the training, people will learn specific techniques to help them overcome their anxiety, including putting the needle gently against the skin first before the actual injection, learning to self-inject quickly so that there is less pain and bleeding, or practising on an orange or while sitting in a comfortable chair.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/How-MS-Medications-Are-Given