The Agony of Decision-making when It’s Time to Switch MS Medications

I’m agonizing over an important decision and it’s driving me crazy. I’m usually a quick decision-maker, but this one is tough. I have my analytical hat on, trying to look at my choices from a scientific standpoint. Unfortunately, my anxiety kicks in, and my hat is blown away. Let me explain.

My MS diagnosis was in 1986, a time before any FDA medication was available. When the first MS medication, Betaseron (interferon beta-1b), was approved, I was at the head of the line to sign up. It was exciting to finally have a treatment for my disease, especially one that promised to decrease the severity of an exacerbation while also delaying progression. Unfortunately, I experienced severe side effects, so I jumped ship after a few months.

In 1996, the next medication, Avonex (interferon beta-1a), was approved and I pinned my hopes on it working magic on me. I hung on as long as I could but, alas, I once again suffered side effects too tough to handle.

Enter Copaxone (glatiramer acetate injection). It was a winner, particularly when a newer version allowed me to inject three days a week instead of seven. The only side effects I experienced were permanent skin indentations and an occasional flush that sometimes felt like a heart attack. I liked it so much that I became a trained peer advocate for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the maker of Copaxone, to help other patients with questions and concerns about the medication.

I’ve been self-injecting for 25 years, and I decided I finally had enough. I want to switch medications, so I need to explore my options. Please don’t get me wrong; I’m thankful that the MS community now has many choices of medications. I’m simply weary of sticking needles into my body. It’s time to move on.

I met with my neurologist to discuss options. She gave me three: two are oral and one is an infusion.

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