Your doctor has recommended that you start treatment with a disease-modifying therapy (DMT) to control your MS and has likely suggested a few medications for you to consider. Each has a unique profile (how and how often it’s taken, side effects, etc.). So it’s important to select one that fits with your personal needs, preferences and lifestyle. MS is a chronic disease that will need to be treated for many years to come.

Complete the following questions before seeing your MS nurse. Your answers will help the nurse understand more about you, tailor your discussions to better address your concerns and work with you to design a treatment regimen that will be more satisfactory to you.

Write out or check your answers. Your MS nurse can discuss these factors in greater detail at your next visit.

Factors to consider
My Preferences
Medication factors  
How it’s taken.
DMTs are available as injections (under the skin or into the muscle), as oral drugs (pills or capsules) or as infusions (a slow drip into the vein at a clinic). Does the way a medication is taken matter to you?

DMTs have different dosing schedules (e.g. daily, monthly, annually). Are there factors in your life (e.g. frequent travel, personal obligations, limited time off work) that might cause difficulties with the scheduling of your medication?

How often it’s taken.
It’s important for medications to become part of your lifestyle so you don’t miss doses. Are you generally able to take medications without missing doses?

How it works.
There are different types of DMTs and they act in different ways on the immune system to control your MS. Does a DMT’s effects on your immune response concern you in any way?

Benefits and Risks.
Taking any medication can be associated with benefits (e.g. control of your MS) and risks (e.g. side effects). In general, what is more important to you?

If a medication had a low chance of causing a serious (but treatable) side effect, how worried or concerned would that make you?

Dosing and Monitoring.
With some medications you would need to go periodically to a clinic for tests/procedures or to receive your next dose of medication. Do you think that this might create some difficulties for you in any areas of your life? (Check any that apply)

Lifestyle factors  
Family planning.
Are you planning to have children in the next 1-2 years?

Personal support.
Family and friends are important sources of support and encouragement. On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your level of support? (1=low, 5=high)

Professional support.
Many medications provide patient support programs (PSP) to answer questions about the treatment you’re taking and to send you reminders about tests/procedures and dosing. How much support from the PSP do you think you would need? (1=low, 5=high)

Financial factors  
Insurance coverage.
What type of insurance coverage do you have?

Financial assistance.
Do you expect to need any financial assistance to help with medication costs (e.g. insurance copayments)?

Note: Choosing the right medication is a difficult process. Your MS nurse will provide you with information about the drug therapies available. As you learn more, you may change your mind about what’s important to you. You may also decide that you would prefer another medication if you are having problems with side effects. That’s fine – the goal is to find the medication that most closely meets your needs!

Developed in collaboration with MS nurse advisors: Colleen Harris, Calgary, AB; Bonnie Blain, Red Deer, AB; Judith Brouillette, Montreal, QC; Janet Brown, St. John's, NL; Peggy Cook, Saint John, NB; Lynn McEwan, London, ON;Shirley McGowan, Saskatoon, SK; Jill Nelson, Vancouver, BC