Multiple sclerosis medications and COVID-19 | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Multiple sclerosis medications and COVID-19

COVID-19 may have certain implications for those who take common medications prescribed for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Here’s a breakdown of some MS drugs and their implications related to COVID-19.

COVID-19 may have certain implications for people who take common medications prescribed for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Here’s a breakdown of some MS drugs and the related implications from COVID-19 (before changing their MS treatments, patients should contact their MS specialist).

Cell-depleting drugs that increase risk of severe infection

  • Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada)
  • Cladribine (Mavenclad)
  • Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus)
  • Rituximab (Rituxan), which is sometimes used off-label for multiple sclerosis

Drugs that lead to reduction of circulating white blood cells

  • Fingolimod (Gilenya)
  • Siponimod (Mayzent)

Both also may increase a person’s risk of getting upper respiratory infections, like COVID-19.

Drugs that may cause decreased absolute lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell) count

Patients on these drugs have their lymphocyte counts monitored regularly and if found to be low, may be at an increased risk of infection.

  • Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera)
  • Diroximel fumarate (Vumerity)
  • Teriflunomide (Aubagio)

Injectable drugs unlikely to increase COVID-19 risk

  • Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone)
  • Interferons (Betaseron, Rebif, Avonex, Extavia and Plegridy)

Drugs that may cause disease rebound after stopping

  • Natalizumab (Tysabri)
  • Fingolimod (Gilenya)
  • Siponimod (Mayzent)

Anna V. Bite, D.O., is a neurologist with Norton Neuroscience Institute and has a special interest in MS and other inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system.


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