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Multiple Sclerosis

Copaxone indicated for people with Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) and is a funded prescription medicine for patients that meet special medical criteria.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain and the spinal cord. MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease. Other types of autoimmune diseases include psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and type-1 diabetes. The immune system is designed to help protect the body against invasion from foreign substances (such as viruses or bacteria) and assist with repair after injury. In autoimmune diseases the person’s immune system mistakenly attacks the cells, tissues, and/or organs of the body.
Whilst no one is entirely sure what causes this to happen, the effects of having MS are clear – degeneration of myelin. Myelin is a fatty substance that is wrapped around nerve fibres (axons) within the CNS. This fatty layer of myelin acts as an insulation for the axons, protecting the axons from damage and supporting the conduction of electrical signals (nerve impulses) along the axons. An autoimmune attack within the CNS causes inflammation. As a result of this inflammation process the myelin is damaged, resulting in a loss of conductivity of the nerve impulses along the axon. This results in a range of symptoms that can affect sight, movement, balance and other physical functions.
Types of MS
MS does not affect everyone in the same way, and it also follows different courses in different
people. MS has been classified into four types, depending on the course the disease follows:
  • Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS) 
  • Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS)
  • Primary Progressive MS (PPMS)
  • Progressive Relapsing MS (PRMS)
Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS)
This is the most common type of MS. It is characterised by acute and recurrent attacks of
neurological dysfunction (known as a relapse) followed by periods of recovery (remissions)
that may allow the patient to return to baseline neurological function, hence its name Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS). Copaxone is approved for the treatment of RRMS, but is not approved for the treatment of the other types of MS listed.
Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS)
Often people first diagnosed with RRMS eventually develop what is known as Secondary
Progressive MS (SPMS). Some people may have no more relapses/remissions however they start to develop a steady progression of disability. Those who still have a pattern similar to relapses and remissions find the relapses and remissions tend to be less frequent and the loss of physical function becomes a slow and steady progression.

Note: Information on this site is not intended to replace the advice given by your doctor or other health professional.

Helpful Links

Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand

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