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Generic Name:

dimethyl-fumarate, Oral capsule

All Brands

  • Tecfidera
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Highlights for dimethyl-fumarate

Oral capsule
1

Dimethyl fumarate is an oral medication used to treat multiple sclerosis.

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Side effects of dimethyl fumarate include skin flushing and stomach problems, but these may decrease over time. Taking the medication with food may decrease flushing.

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Take the dimethyl fumarate capsule whole. Don’t break, crush, chew, open, or dissolve the capsules. This may release the medication too fast and increase your chance of side effects.

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Dimethyl fumarate may decrease your white blood cell count and increase your risk of infection. Your doctor may do blood tests before you start and while you take dimethyl fumarate.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Infection risk

This medication may decrease your white blood cell count, which could increase your risk of infections. Your doctor may check your blood tests before you start taking this drug and then every 6–12 months afterwards.

Viral infection of the brain

This infection is called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. This condition damages the protective nerve coating (myelin) in your brain. If you have any symptoms of this condition, stop taking this drug immediately and get medical care. Symptoms include:

  • weakness on one side of your body
  • vision disturbances
  • changes in thinking and memory, which lead to confusion and personality changes

Severe allergic reaction

If you have any symptoms of allergic reaction, stop taking the medication immediately and seek medical care. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives

What is dimethyl fumarate?

Dimethyl fumarate is a prescription drug. It’s available as an oral extended-release capsule.

Why it's used

Dimethyl fumarate is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

More Details

How it works

Dimethyl fumarate is thought to work by reducing inflammation and toxins that may damage protective nerve covering and cause symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Why It's Used

Dimethyl fumarate is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. In relapsing multiple sclerosis, symptoms flare up for some time and then go away, sometimes for months or years.

Symptoms may include dizziness, muscle weakness, speech problems, loss of vision, and others.

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dimethyl-fumarate Side Effects

Oral capsule

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with dimethyl fumarate include:

  • flushing

  • abdominal pain

  • diarrhea

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • itching

  • rash

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (a viral infection of your brain). Symptoms may include:

    • weakness on one side of your body
    • vision disturbances
    • changes in thinking and memory, which may lead to confusion and personality changes
  • decreased white blood cell count, which increases your risk of infection. Symptoms of infection may include:

    • fever
    • tiredness
    • body aches
    • chills
    • nausea
    • vomiting
  • severe allergic reaction. Symptoms may include:

    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your throat or tongue
    • hives
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug does not cause drowsiness.

Mild side effects may disappear within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if the side effects are more severe or don’t go away.

After taking your dose, this medication may cause reddened skin with a warm, itchy, burning feeling (flushing). Flushing usually gets better over time. Taking the medication with food can help with this side effect.

Ask your doctor if you can take an aspirin before taking this drug to help reduce flushing.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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dimethyl-fumarate May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

No drugs are known to interact with dimethyl fumarate. However, the medication may still interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.  

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
pregnant woman
Pregnant women

This drug is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.
breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if this drug passes through breast milk. Infants exposed to the medication in breast milk could experience side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, and rash.

You and your doctor should discuss the risks before you choose to breastfeed or take this drug.

allergies
Allergies

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it a second time after an allergic reaction could be fatal.

Symptoms of allergic reaction include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives
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How to Take dimethyl-fumarate (Dosage)

Oral capsule

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Multiple sclerosis

Brand: Tecfidera

Form: Oral Capsule
Strengths: 120 mg and 240 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)
  • The starting dose of dimethyl fumarate may be 120 mg taken twice per day for 1 week.
  • That may be followed by 240 mg taken twice per day. Doses should be taken approximately 12 hours apart.
  • If you can’t take the full 240 mg dose due to side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, flushing, or abdominal pain, your doctor may temporarily reduce your dose to 120 mg. If you aren’t able to take the full 240 mg dose due to side effects a second time, your doctor may ask you to stop taking this medication.
Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children and shouldn’t be used in children under the age of 18 years.

Senior Dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or you may need a different schedule.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed by your doctor:

If You Don’t Take It at All

Your multiple sclerosis can worsen over time. Multiple sclerosis is active in your body and can damage your nervous system even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms. Taking this drug can help slow the damage.

If You Stop Taking It

Taking this drug helps to slow the damage that multiple sclerosis does to your nervous system. Stopping the drug allows the damage to happen more quickly.

What To Do If You Miss a Dose

It’s important to take all of your doses at the right times. This helps to keep the same amount of the drug in your system from day to day to get the most effective results. Missing doses or not taking it as scheduled can change the amount of the drug in your body from day to day and reduce its effects.

How to Tell If the Drug Is Working

You may be able to tell that this drug is working if you experience a decrease in symptom flare-ups.

This drug is a long-term drug treatment.

You can take this drug with or without food

Taking it with food may help to reduce skin flushing as a side effect.

Don’t cut or crush the capsule

Doing this may release the medication too fast and increase your chance of side effects.

Store in temperatures from 59–86°F (15–30ºC)

Keep it away from high temperature and light.

Keep drugs away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store them away from moisture and damp locations.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you or in a carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt this medication.
  • You may need to show your pharmacy’s preprinted label to identify the medication. Keep the original prescription-labeled bottle with you when traveling.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor may do tests to check your health and make sure the drug is working for you. They may do a blood test before you start taking this drug and then every 6–12 months after.

Hidden costs

You may need to pay additional costs for blood tests when taking this medication.

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for this drug.

Are there any alternatives?

There are several drugs that can treat multiple sclerosis. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

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How Much Does dimethyl-fumarate Cost?

Oral capsule

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Lowest price for dimethyl-fumarate

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for dimethyl-fumarate on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on April 16, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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