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Past Medications
Although the earliest recorded description of multiple sclerosis (MS) dates back to the 14th century, it was first identified as a specific disease in the 19th century, and it wasn't until the latter years of the 20th century that treatments were found.

Through the 1800s and up until the mid 1900s, doctors were grasping at straws to find an effective treatment, relying on trial and error while testing a wide range of unusual medications and unexpected therapies.

Early medications for treating MS, however, were not without their hurdles. Trials with both interferon alpha and gamma proved unsuccessful, as did treatment with oral myelin, cladribine, sulfasalazine and inhibitors of tumour necrosis factor. In 1993, is when it all changed and we were introduced to the first therapy proven to be effective in altering the natural history of relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).

Prior to 1993, which is not that long ago, no disease modifying medications to treat MS existed. The only "treatment" available for MS were steroids that possessed anti-inflammatory properties. The purpose then was for the steroids to attempt to reduce the duration and severity of an exacerbation. Today, steroids are still being used, either to slow things down during an exacerbation or when progression has taken someone beyond the use of the disease modifying drugs. The main problems with using steroids is the possible side effects being mainly weight gain, seizures, and psychosis. As time has gone on, it has been felt that this type of treatment was more appropriate for those with movement, rather than sensory, symptoms.

The main steroids used for MS treatments has included adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), prednisone, prednisolone, betamethasone, and dexamethasone. Other than these limited choices, there was no drug available that attacked MS head on. So if anyone was diagnosed prior to 1993, there was very little, if anything, that could be done except for putting a "bandage" over the wound. You could even go as far as to say that they were being put out to "pasture". The speed and extent of disability on an individual prior to 1993 compared to the present time is significant.

The 1980's provided science with a chance to begin fighting back with research that looked for specific target to strike. The first true drug for fighting MS was just around the corner, and there were a great number of people ready to finally fight it head on. All of that research was about to introduce to the beta-Interferons.