If you have a certain form of multiple sclerosis (MS), you may be interested in learning more about Vumerity.
Vumerity is a prescription drug used to treat the following forms of relapsing MS in adults:
It’s also used in adults to treat clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), a condition that may develop into MS.
To learn more about the uses of Vumerity, see the “What is Vumerity used for?” section below.
Vumerity contains the active ingredient diroximel fumarate. (An active ingredient is the ingredient that makes a drug work.) It’s not available as a generic drug.
Keep reading to learn more about Vumerity’s side effects, dosage, cost, and more.
Like most drugs, Vumerity may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Vumerity may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you take
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Vumerity. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Vumerity can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Vumerity’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Vumerity that have been reported include:
- flushing (temporary warmth, discoloration, or deepening of skin color)
- belly pain
- nausea and vomiting
- skin rash
- skin discoloration
- mild allergic reaction*
* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Vumerity can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Vumerity, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Vumerity that have been reported include:
- progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare viral infection in the brain and spinal cord*
- severe infection, including shingles
- lymphocytopenia (low levels of white blood cells called lymphocytes)
- liver damage*
- serious flushing
- severe allergic reaction†
* Though not reported in studies of Vumerity, this side effect was reported after the drug became available on the market.
† To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Vumerity. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
You may wonder how Vumerity compares with other medications prescribed to treat MS, such as Tecfidera.
Both Vumerity and Tecfidera are prescribed to treat the same conditions in adults:
- relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
- active secondary-progressive MS (SPMS)
- clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)
Vumerity contains the active ingredient* diroximel fumarate. Tecfidera’s active ingredient is dimethyl fumarate. These ingredients are very similar. As a result, many of Tecfidera’s side effects can be the same as Vumerity’s. (For more information about Vumerity’s side effects, see the “What are Vumerity’s side effects?” section above.)
It’s important to note that you should not take Vumerity and Tecfidera together. This is because the body breaks down both drugs into the same substance, monomethyl fumarate (MMF). So taking both drugs at the same time could cause too much MMF to build up in your body.
To learn more about how Vumerity and Tecfidera compare, see this article.
* An active ingredient is the ingredient that makes a drug work.
Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Vumerity that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Vumerity comes as delayed-release capsules that you swallow. Delayed release means the drug is released into your body slowly.
You’ll take Vumerity twice each day. You’ll take a lower dosage of the drug for the first week. Then you’ll take a higher dosage for the rest of treatment.
You can take your dose with food, so long as it isn’t a high calorie or high fat meal or snack. For more information, see the “How is Vumerity taken?” section below.
Questions about Vumerity’s dosage
Below are some common questions about Vumerity’s dosage.
- What if I miss a dose of Vumerity? If you miss a dose of Vumerity, try to take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at its regular time. Do not take more than one dose of Vumerity at a time to make up for a missed dose.
- Will I need to take Vumerity long term? If you and your doctor agree that Vumerity is safe and working well for you, you’ll likely take it long term.
- How long does Vumerity take to work? Vumerity begins working as soon as you take a dose. But it may take several weeks before you notice your MS symptoms easing. If you have questions about when you can expect your condition to improve, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. A program called Biogen Support Services is available that could help you cover the cost of Vumerity.
You can also check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Vumerity.
What is Vumerity’s mechanism of action (how does it work)?
Vumerity’s mechanism of action for treating multiple sclerosis (MS) isn’t fully understood. It’s not known exactly what causes MS. This makes it hard to know how drugs like Vumerity work to treat this condition.
It’s thought that Vumerity may decrease MS symptoms by activating certain proteins in the body. These proteins may help reduce the inflammation and damage caused by MS.
If you’d like to know more about how Vumerity works, talk with your pharmacist or doctor.
What should I know about alternatives to Vumerity, such as Ocrevus and Aubagio?
Vumerity, Aubagio, and Ocrevus are all prescribed to treat relapsing forms of MS and clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) in adults. (To learn more about these conditions, see the “What is Vumerity used for?” section below.) Ocrevus is also used to treat primary progressive MS in adults.
Vumerity comes as capsules and Aubagio comes as tablets, both of which you swallow. Ocrevus is given by intravenous (IV) infusion (an injection into a vein given over time).
To learn more about how Vumerity compares with Ocrevus and Aubagio, as well as other alternatives, talk with your pharmacist or doctor.
Does Vumerity cause hair loss?
It’s possible. Studies of Vumerity did not report hair loss as a side effect. But there have been reports of hair loss by people taking the drug since it came onto the market.
Because hair loss occurred outside studies, it’s not known for sure whether it was caused by the drug or other factors.
MS, which Vumerity is prescribed to treat, may cause hair loss. Certain other medications prescribed for MS, such as Aubagio, can also cause hair loss.
If you’re concerned about hair loss during MS treatment, talk with your doctor. They can help determine whether it could be caused by a medication such as Vumerity, your condition, or another factor.
Vumerity is a prescription drug used to treat the following forms of relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults:
It’s also used in adults to treat clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), a condition that may develop into MS.
About MS and CIS
MS is a kind of long-term autoimmune condition. With autoimmune conditions, your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s own cells.
MS causes your immune system to attack myelin, a protective layer of tissue that wraps around your nerve fibers. Damaged myelin makes it hard for your nervous system to function as usual.
Symptoms of MS can vary depending on the kind, but some general ones include:
- problems with walking, balance, or coordination
- fatigue (low energy)
- chronic (long-term) pain
- slurred speech
- vision problems, such as blurry vision
CIS also involves damaged myelin and causes symptoms similar to MS that last at least 24 hours. But CIS may not necessarily develop into MS.
It’s not known what exactly causes MS or CIS or why these conditions affect certain people. This makes it hard to understand how drugs such as Vumerity work to treat MS and CIS.
It’s thought that Vumerity may activate certain proteins in the body. These proteins may help reduce the inflammation and damage caused by MS and CIS.
Note: If you’re taking Vumerity for MS or CIS, you should not take it with a drug called Tecfidera. To learn more, see the “What should I know about Vumerity vs. Tecfidera?” section above.
If you’re thinking about taking Vumerity, it’s important to discuss certain aspects of your health with your doctor. This includes your complete health history, including any medical conditions you may have or medications you may take. This information helps your doctor determine whether Vumerity may be a good treatment option for you.
Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Vumerity, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter kinds. Also, describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Vumerity.
For information about drug-condition interactions, see the “Warnings” section below.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Vumerity can interact with the drug dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera). Your body breaks down both drugs into the same substance, monomethyl fumarate (MMF). So taking both drugs at the same time could cause too much MMF to build up in your body.
Due to this risk, doctors usually will not prescribe Vumerity with Tecfidera. If you’re switching from Tecfidera to Vumerity, you’ll need to wait a day after you stop taking Tecfidera to start taking Vumerity.
Studies did not report other drug interactions with Vumerity. But this doesn’t mean more drug interactions with Vumerity won’t be recognized in the future. For example, new medications may become available that interact with Vumerity.
For this reason, you should still tell your doctor and pharmacist about any medications you take besides Vumerity. They can then check for any new interactions during your treatment.
Vumerity may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions. These are known as drug-condition interactions. Other factors may also affect whether Vumerity is a good treatment option for you.
Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Vumerity. Factors to consider include those in the list below.
- Moderate or severe kidney problems. It’s usually safe for people with mild kidney problems to take Vumerity. But doctors usually won’t prescribe the drug to someone who has moderate or severe kidney problems. If you have kidney problems, such as chronic kidney disease, tell your doctor before starting Vumerity treatment. They’ll probably recommend other treatments if your kidney problems are moderate or severe.
- Liver problems. Vumerity can cause side effects affecting the liver, including liver damage in rare cases. If you have liver problems, such as alcoholic liver disease, taking Vumerity may worsen your condition. Based on the severity of your liver problems, your doctor will discuss with you whether it’s safe to take Vumerity.
- Low white blood cell count. Vumerity can lower your white blood cell count, although this side effect is not common. If your white blood cell count is already low, taking Vumerity could worsen your condition. Your doctor can tell you whether it’s safe for you to take Vumerity. They may also suggest treating your low white blood cell count before you start taking Vumerity.
- Active infection. Because Vumerity can lower your white blood cell count, your body may have a harder time fighting infections during treatment. If you currently have an infection, Vumerity could make it harder to treat. Your doctor will likely treat your infection before you begin taking Vumerity.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Vumerity or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Vumerity. Ask them what other medications are better options for you.
Vumerity and alcohol
You should avoid drinking alcohol at the same time as taking doses of Vumerity. Doing so could affect the level of the drug in your body, possibly making it less effective.
In addition, alcohol and Vumerity can cause some of the same side effects, including diarrhea, nausea, and flushing (temporary warmth, discoloration, or deepening of skin color). So consuming alcohol during Vumerity treatment could increase your risk of these side effects.
If you consume alcohol, talk with your doctor. They can advise you on how much, if any, is safe for you to drink while you’re taking Vumerity. But remember that you should not take Vumerity doses at the same time that you drink alcohol.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Whether it’s safe to take Vumerity while pregnant or breastfeeding is not known.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning on becoming pregnant or breastfeeding, talk with your doctor. They can discuss with you possible treatment options that are safe for you during this time.
Your doctor will explain how you should take Vumerity. They’ll also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Vumerity comes as delayed-release capsules that you swallow. (Delayed release means the drug is released into your body slowly.) You’ll take the drug twice each day.
Accessible medication containers and labels
If it’s hard for you to read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Certain pharmacies may provide medication labels that:
- have large print
- use braille
- contain a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text into audio
Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a pharmacy that offers these options if your current pharmacy doesn’t.
Also, if you’re having trouble opening your medication bottles, let your pharmacist know. They may be able to put Vumerity in an easy-open container. Your pharmacist may also recommend tools to help make it simpler to open the drug’s container.
Questions about taking Vumerity
Below are some common questions about taking Vumerity.
- Can Vumerity be chewed, crushed, or split? No, you should not chew, crush, or split Vumerity capsules. They should only be swallowed whole. If you have trouble swallowing pills, check out these tips. Your doctor or pharmacist can also suggest ways to make taking Vumerity easier.
- Should I take Vumerity with food? You may take Vumerity capsules with or without food. But if you take your dose with food, a high fat or high calorie meal or snack can affect how well your body absorbs the drug. The manufacturer recommends that the food you take with the drug contains no more than 700 calories and no more than 30 grams (g) of fat.
- Is there a best time of day to take Vumerity? No, there’s no best time of day to take Vumerity. But you’ll need to take the drug twice each day, so try to take your doses every 12 hours. This can help maintain a steady level of the drug in your body. Taking your Vumerity doses at the same times every day may help you avoid missing a dose.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Vumerity and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will Vumerity affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
Do not take more Vumerity than your doctor prescribes. Taking more than this can lead to serious side effects.
What to do in case you take too much Vumerity
Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Vumerity. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room.
If you’re considering treatment with Vumerity, talk with your doctor. Ask them questions that help you understand the risks and benefits of the medication. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- How does Vumerity compare with other medications I could take for my condition?
- If I have side effects from taking Vumerity, is there a lower dose you can prescribe?
- What should I do if my MS symptoms get worse while I’m taking Vumerity?
If you’re interested in learning more about MS treatments, check out these articles:
For information about MS treatments, self-care tips, and more, sign up for Healthline’s MS newsletter. And if you’re interested in joining a supportive community of people who live with MS, check out Bezzy MS.
Can you tell me more about blood tests I’ll need to have while I’m taking Vumerity?Anonymous
While you’re taking Vumerity, your doctor will order certain blood tests. You’ll have these tests every 6 to 12 months for as long as you take the drug.
Your doctor will order a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC) with differential. A CBC measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in your blood. “With differential” means the CBC will also measure the number of specific kinds of white blood cells, such as lymphocytes.
Your doctor will check your blood cell counts because Vumerity may decrease your lymphocyte levels. Having lower lymphocyte levels can raise your risk of infection.
Doctors won’t usually stop Vumerity treatment if only one test shows low blood cell levels, unless the results are severe. But if your blood cell counts remain low for longer than 6 months, your doctor may have you temporarily stop taking Vumerity. You’ll resume treatment when your blood cells increase to more normal levels.
For more information about tests you may need during Vumerity treatment, talk with your doctor.The Healthline Pharmacist TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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 another 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.