Before beginning Tecfidera I did a thorough research online. I read the pamphlet, blogs, news articles. I called Biogen, Inc. and interviewed the pharmacist and nurse. Given the struggles I have had on other medications I wanted this one to be as painless as possible and from what I was reading online, it had the potential to be miserable.
To prevent side effects I began Tecfidera by taking a baby aspirin with each pill, along with an antihistamine. Following Biogen’s suggestion I consumed four ounces of applesauce as well. Two weeks later I was in the doctor’s office complaining about increased fatigue. He said to stop the antihistamine and he was right; the fatigue returned to normal. I also decreased the amount of applesauce and finally stopped it after a month.
At first I had few, if any, side effects. When I stopped the antihistamine and the applesauce and moved to the full dose, the side effects appeared. Occasionally I will experience flushing to varying degrees and minor GI issues. All-in-all things have worked out far better than I expected. I plan to stay on Tecfidera for as long as possible because it does not have any life-threatening side effects, although there is a slight risk of PML. No one has come down with PML while on Tecfidera though one of the ingredients is also in another medication that has been on the market for 20 years and there have been cases of PML with that drug. For this reason I have my eye out for the next, safer medication to appear on the market.
Image from: drugs.com