MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: Amalgam Fillings, COVID-19 and MS, Tecfidera Generic

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by Ed Tobias |

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MS Patients Should Avoid ‘Silver’ Tooth Fillings Due to Mercury, FDA Advises

Concerns about the possible danger of amalgam dental fillings have been floated for years. Several European countries already have banned their use in certain cases. Now, regulators in the U.S. have taken a small step in that direction. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a recommendation that amalgam fillings not be used for people in certain risk groups, including those with an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis.

As someone who had a mouthful of amalgam fillings as a kid, I have to wonder it they had anything to do with developing MS later in life.

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are among the high-risk groups advised to avoid dental amalgams — silver-colored fillings that are 50% mercury — under new recommendations issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Amalgams can be used by dentists to restore the structure and surfaces of teeth damaged by decay.

Click here to read the full story.


#MSVirtual2020 – Disability Level and DMT Use Don’t Raise COVID-19 Risk, UK Study Finds

Many of us with multiple sclerosis have been concerned that our disease may make us more susceptible to COVID-19. This study of people with MS who self-reported that they had been infected with the coronavirus indicates there was no greater risk for them than for the general population.

However, dig down into this story and you’ll find that of everyone who returned questionnaires, 535 (10.1%) were self-diagnosed with COVID-19, and only 75 (1.4%) reported formally testing positive. It concerns me that only 12% of those saying they’d been infected actually had a test confirming it. I worry about the accuracy of the diagnosis of the other roughly 88% who self-diagnosed. So, read the full story and judge for yourself.

This study also reports no apparent relationship between disease-modifying therapy (DMT) use and COVID-19. But read the next story below, which tells a different tale about the relationship between two DMTs and COVID-19.

When safety measures like isolation are in place, neither disease-modifying therapy (DMT) use nor greater physical disability appear to heighten the risk of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) contracting COVID-19, a large U.K. registry-based study found.

Preliminary study data also suggested that these factors do not affect a patient’s ability to recover from the disease.

Click here to read the full story.


#MSVirtual2020 – Rituximab, Ocrevus Linked to Higher Risk of Worse COVID-19 Outcomes

One thing reported in the previous study was that “DMT use and MS type and duration were generally not found to associate with a likelihood of contracting COVID-19.” But a study reported in this story says just the opposite about two B-cell-attacking DMTs.

The use of certain disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) such as rituximab and Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), which lower the number of a patient’s immune B-cells, may increase the odds of developing a more severe COVID-19 disease course for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a study suggests.

The study, which includes data from the largest group of patients with MS and COVID-19 currently available worldwide, found that the use of these two DMTs was associated with a higher rate of hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions, and ventilatory support.

Click here to read the full story.


FDA Approves Generic of Tecfidera for Adults With Relapsing MS

I’m always glad to see a generic version of a medication approved for use. The expectation is that a generic will be less expensive than a brand-name med, and may force down the price of the latter. But as I wrote a couple years ago, that’s not a given.

Some pharmaceutical manufacturers appear to have been making deals with insurance companies for their drug plans to stop covering certain generics and instead approve only brand-name equivalents. In exchange, the pharma companies sell their brand names to the drug plans at a discount — which is not passed along to the patient. Let’s see what happens in this case.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Cipla’s dimethyl fumarate capsules, a generic version of Biogen’s Tecfidera, to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), the company announced in a press release.

This generic is packaged as 120 mg or 240 mg delayed release capsules of dimethyl fumarate, or as a 120/240 mg mixed capsule starter pack. Once prescribed, it is available “for shipping immediately” to adults in the U.S. with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), and active secondary progressive MS (SPMS), Cipla stated.

Click here to read the full story.


 Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Charles Lumia avatar

Charles Lumia

I take Tecfidera. What do you guys think if my insurance company only wants to pay for the generic?

I've never been a big prescription guy, this is my first real medication. From what I've read the generic will be the same thing and I shouldn't worry.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias


Speaking only as a patient, since I'm not a health care prof, I can say that I've used generics for many medications over the years. Haven't you? If your neuro says it's ok, and you trust your neuro, I wouldn't worry.



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