If you have certain types of multiple sclerosis, your healthcare provider may prescribe Tecfidera. This medication is approved to treat relapsing forms of the disease, which occur when symptoms of the condition become worse. This drug comes as a capsule that is taken twice daily. Side effects include diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.
Tecfidera™ (dimethyl fumarate) is a prescription medication approved to treat people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). In relapsing forms of MS, there are distinct periods when symptoms are worse (known as attacks, relapses, or flare-ups). Tecfidera can help reduce the number of attacks a person has.
Tecfidera was known as BG-12 when it was being developed. It is still sometimes referred to as BG-12.
Tecfidera is made by Biogen Idec, Inc.
At this time, it is not entirely clear how Tecfidera works to treat multiple sclerosis. It may work in a couple of ways.
Tecfidera activates a protein known as nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2). This protein is involved in protecting cells from the negative effects of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a term used to describe the cumulative damage to the body caused by the production of harmful chemicals produced during many normal body functions. Oxidative stress is thought to be involved in damage to myelin and nerves in MS.
Tecfidera may also have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce damage to myelin that occurs in people with MS.
Tecfidera has been studied in clinical trials that included people with relapsing forms of MS. In these studies, the medication reduced the risk for disease relapse and slowed down the progression of disability.
More specifically, 27 percent to 29 percent of people given Tecfidera relapsed over the two years of the study, compared with 41 percent to 46 percent of people given a placebo (a "sugar pill" with no active ingredients). In addition, 13 percent to 16 percent of people given Tecfidera had progression of their disability, compared with 17 percent to 27 percent of those given a placebo.