Why is this medication prescribed?
Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) is a medication used in the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). It helps to reduce the frequency of relapses and delay the progression of disability associated with MS.
How should this medicine be used?
Here’s how Tecfidera is typically used:
- Dosage: The usual dose for Tecfidera is one 120 mg capsule taken orally twice daily, with or without food. After 7 days, the dosage is typically increased to one 240 mg capsule taken orally twice daily.
- Administration: Tecfidera capsules should be swallowed whole and should not be crushed, chewed, or opened.
- Timing: It’s important to take Tecfidera consistently at the same times each day, as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Food: Tecfidera can be taken with or without food. Some people may experience fewer gastrointestinal side effects if taken with food.
- Monitoring: Regular monitoring by a healthcare provider is necessary while taking Tecfidera to evaluate its effectiveness and monitor for any potential side effects.
- Missed Dose: If a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as possible on the same day. However, if it’s near the time for the next dose, the missed dose should be skipped and the regular dosing schedule should be resumed. Doubling up on doses to make up for a missed dose should be avoided.
- Storage: Tecfidera capsules should be stored at room temperature, away from moisture and heat.
It’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions precisely when taking Tecfidera and to report any concerns or side effects promptly. Additionally, individuals taking Tecfidera may require regular blood tests to monitor for potential changes in certain blood cell counts or liver function.
Other uses for this medicine
Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) is primarily used for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), as mentioned earlier. However, it’s essential to note that medications are sometimes prescribed for conditions other than those listed in the medication guide. Such use of Tecfidera would be considered off-label and should only be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider who can assess the risks and benefits for the individual patient.
What special precautions should I follow?
As for special precautions when using Tecfidera, here are some key points to consider:
- Allergies: Inform your healthcare provider if you are allergic to dimethyl fumarate or any other ingredients in Tecfidera.
- Medical History: Before starting Tecfidera, discuss your medical history with your healthcare provider, especially if you have a history of low white blood cell counts, liver problems, or infections.
- Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Tecfidera may harm an unborn baby, so it’s essential to use effective birth control while taking this medication and to inform your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while using it. It’s also not recommended to breastfeed while taking Tecfidera, as it is not known if the drug passes into breast milk.
- Immune System Suppression: Tecfidera may suppress the immune system, increasing the risk of infections. Inform your healthcare provider if you develop signs of infection such as fever, chills, sore throat, or cough.
- Liver Function: Tecfidera may affect liver function, so regular monitoring of liver enzymes may be necessary while taking this medication.
- Gastrointestinal Side Effects: Tecfidera commonly causes gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Taking Tecfidera with food may help reduce these side effects.
- Interactions with Other Medications: Inform your healthcare provider about all the medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking, as they may interact with Tecfidera.
- Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML): Although rare, cases of PML, a serious brain infection, have been reported in patients taking Tecfidera. Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any new or worsening neurological symptoms.
Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions carefully when taking Tecfidera, and do not hesitate to ask any questions or raise any concerns you may have about the medication.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
- Food: Tecfidera can be taken with or without food. Some individuals may experience fewer gastrointestinal side effects if taken with food.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
- Missed Dose: If you miss a dose of Tecfidera, take it as soon as you remember on the same day. However, if it’s near the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not double up on doses to make up for a missed dose.
- Consistency: Try to take Tecfidera consistently at the same times each day to maintain steady levels of the medication in your body.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) can cause various side effects, although not everyone experiences them. Common side effects of Tecfidera include:
- Flushing: This is characterized by warmth, redness, or itching of the skin, typically affecting the face, neck, and upper chest.
- Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain are common gastrointestinal side effects. These symptoms may be reduced by taking Tecfidera with food.
- Abdominal Pain: Some individuals may experience abdominal discomfort or cramping while taking Tecfidera.
- Infections: Tecfidera may increase the risk of infections, such as upper respiratory tract infections and urinary tract infections.
- Liver Problems: Tecfidera may affect liver function, leading to elevated liver enzymes. Regular monitoring of liver function may be necessary.
- Decreased White Blood Cell Count: Tecfidera can cause a decrease in white blood cell count (lymphocytes). Your healthcare provider may monitor your blood cell counts during treatment.
- Allergic Reactions: Allergic reactions to Tecfidera are rare but can occur. Symptoms may include rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, or difficulty breathing. Seek medical attention if you experience any signs of an allergic reaction.
- Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML): While extremely rare, cases of PML, a serious brain infection, have been reported in patients taking Tecfidera. Symptoms of PML may include changes in vision, confusion, difficulty speaking or walking, and weakness on one side of the body. Notify your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any new or worsening neurological symptoms.
It’s essential to report any side effects or concerns to your healthcare provider promptly. They can provide guidance on managing side effects and determine if any adjustments to your treatment plan are necessary. Additionally, some side effects may require immediate medical attention, so it’s crucial to seek medical help if you experience severe or concerning symptoms while taking Tecfidera.
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Storage and disposal of Tecfidera:
- Storage: Store Tecfidera capsules at room temperature, away from moisture and heat. Keep the medication in its original container, tightly closed, and out of reach of children and pets.
- Disposal: Dispose of unused or expired Tecfidera capsules properly according to local regulations or guidelines. Do not flush them down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Consult your pharmacist or healthcare provider for guidance on the proper disposal method.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of emergency/overdose of Tecfidera:
- Emergency: If you suspect an overdose or experience severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or seizures, seek immediate medical attention by calling emergency services or going to the nearest emergency room.
- Overdose: There is limited information on the effects of Tecfidera overdose. However, if you take more than the prescribed dose of Tecfidera, contact your healthcare provider or local poison control center for advice.
What other information should I know?
- Follow-up: Attend all scheduled appointments with your healthcare provider for monitoring and evaluation of your response to Tecfidera treatment. They may conduct periodic blood tests to check your liver function and white blood cell count.
- Interactions: Inform your healthcare provider about all medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking, as they may interact with Tecfidera. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
- Travel: If you plan to travel, ensure you have an adequate supply of Tecfidera for the duration of your trip. Pack your medication in your carry-on luggage, along with a copy of your prescription and any necessary documentation.
- Support: Joining a support group or connecting with others who have MS can provide valuable emotional support and practical advice for managing the condition and treatment.
- Routine Health Practices: Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques, to support overall well-being while managing MS and taking Tecfidera.
Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance regarding the storage, disposal, emergency procedures, and other aspects of taking Tecfidera.