What is dimethyl fumarate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Dimethyl fumarate is an oral disease-modifying agent used for treating relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Teriflunomide (Aubagio), Interferon beta-1a (Avonex), interferon beta-1b (Betaseron), glatiramer acetate (Copaxone), interferon beta-1b (Extavia), fingolimod (Gilenya), mitoxantrone (Novantrone), interferon beta-1a (Rebif), and natalizumab (Tysabri) are other disease modifying agents for multiple sclerosis. Although the exact mechanism of how dimethyl fumarate works is unknown, it is thought to have protective effects on the nervous system and anti-inflammatory properties. Dimethyl fumarate prevents the immune cells from attacking the central nervous system. Dimethyl fumarate reduces the number of annual relapses rate. The FDA approved dimethyl fumarate in March 2013.

What brand names are available for dimethyl fumarate?

Tecfidera

Is dimethyl fumarate available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

Do I need a prescription for dimethyl fumarate?

Yes

What are the side effects of dimethyl fumarate?

The most common side effects associated with dimethyl fumarate treatment are flushing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea. A decrease in white blood cell count also occurs. Patients should check their baseline white blood cell count or have a recently completed blood cell count (CBC) (within 6 months) before starting treatment. Increase in liver enzymes has also been reported in clinical studies.

What is the dosage for dimethyl fumarate?

The recommended starting dose is one 120 mg capsule orally twice daily with or without food. After 7 days, the dose should be increased to the recommended maintenance dose of 240 mg twice daily. Dimethyl fumarate capsules should not be crushed, chewed, or sprinkled on food. Dosing should only begin after a recently completed (within 6 months) normal CBC (complete blood count).

Which drugs or supplements interact with dimethyl fumarate?

: No potential drug interactions were identified in clinical studies.

SLIDESHOW

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms and Treatment See Slideshow

Is dimethyl fumarate safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

It is not known whether Dimethyl fumarate is secreted into breast milk.

What else should I know about dimethyl fumarate?

What preparations of dimethyl fumarate are available?

Delayed-release capsules: 120 mg and 240 mg

How should I keep dimethyl fumarate stored?

Capsules should be stored at 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F). The capsules should be stored in the original container and protected from light.

Summary

Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) is a prescription medication used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, storage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.

Treatment & Diagnosis

Medications & Supplements

Prevention & Wellness

QUESTION

What kind of disease is multiple sclerosis? See Answer

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References
Medically reviewed by John Cunha, DO

REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information.
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