Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the forum post “MS Treatment Eases Flare-up Symptoms After 2 Months” from Oct. 9, 2019. Post your concerns, questions, or experiences in the comments below or at the original forum entry.
Recent news from this year’s Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) conference suggests a glowing future for a therapy that frankly I’d considered only an “old-school” treatment for flares. This follows on the heels of reports at last September’s European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) meeting that showed Acthar Gel to be a “cost-effective late-line treatment option for MS relapses.”
This treatment is something I’ve rarely heard about, usually in forums from other people with MS who actively use it. There aren’t many, at least in the groups I go to, but those who do use this treatment swear by it.
So when a new manufacturer recently called for FDA approval of a competing product, my ears perked up.
What is Acthar Gel, and how could it help people with MS?
A 66-year-old treatment
That’s right! Acthar Gel (also called H.P. Acthar Gel) first appeared in the U.S. pharmaceutical market in 1954. The repository corticotropin injection, composed of pure adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) suspended in an injectable gel, is used to treat MS symptoms.
If you were thinking it’d be as simple as applying this medication to the body like a gel, as I did, you’d be wrong!
The importance of ACTH
The hormone ACTH is known to jump-start the adrenal cortex, which results in the release of certain stress hormones such as cortisol, aldosterone, and corticosterone. According to the Hormone Health Network, ACTH plays a large role in how your body responds to stress.
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