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Thursday, October 1, 2009

MS Related Fatigue

In this week's eMS News, we continue with our series, MS Therapies in the Pipeline.

Written by: Dr. Timothy Vollmer, medical director of the Rocky Mountain MS Center.

Fatigue—low-energy, difficulty with thinking, and an overwhelming need to sleep—is one of the most common symptoms of MS, and the hardship of finding a means of alleviating it can be equally frustrating. For many people, medication coupled with lifestyle modifications—such as good nutrition and exercise—are most effective.

In the last 20 years, a number of medications have been tested and consequently used to help combat MS-related fatigue, including amantadine, modafinil, adderall and Ritalin. The use of these medications as treatments for fatigue is off-label, meaning that although the four drugs are FDA approved, they were approved to treat other illnesses or conditions.

Amantadine (Symmetrel) is an antiviral medication often used to treat influenza; it is also commonly used as a therapy for Parkinson’s disease. The mechanism behind its capacity to help alleviate MS-related fatigue remains unknown and many MS investigators and physicians have deemed the medication—at best—moderately effective. Study results to date have not documented consistent improvements in fatigue, and many investigators see a critical need for larger and more in-depth studies on amantadine. Low doses (100 or 200 mg/day) have been accompanied by few side effects. Higher doses (300+), however, can cause a blotchy, discoloration of the skin called livedo reticularis. (Cont.

Source for this article is the Rocky Mountain MS Center. Click the link found above to read this full article.


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