Copaxone, the brand name of Glatiramer acetate, is a drug used to treat patients with MS. It does not cure the condition, but it does reduce relapses and makes symptoms more manageable. It isn’t known exactly how the drug works, but it is thought to modify the immune system’s response to naturally occurring coatings of nerve endings.
- What is Copaxone?
- What is Copaxone used for?
- How does Copaxone work?
- What are the side effects of Copaxone?
- How much does Copaxone cost?
- Does Copaxone cause weight gain?
- What should you avoid while taking Copaxone?
- How do you inject Copaxone?
1. What is Copaxone?
Glatiramer acetate, typically sold under the brand name Copaxone, belongs to a class of drugs known as immunomodulators. It is an artificial version of a protein that exists naturally in the body as a protective coating around nerves. It is an injectable medication and is typically taken daily or a few times a week.
2. What is Copaxone used for?
Copaxone is used to treat patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). These include:
- Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), also known as early MS
- Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
- Active secondary progressive MS (SPMS)
Copaxone is not a cure for MS; however, it can be used to slow disease progression, reduce the regularity of remissions and make symptoms more manageable to help increase patient quality of life.
3. How does Copaxone work?
Myelin is a fatty coating that surrounds the nerves to protect them and help quickly send nerve signals throughout the body. In MS, the immune system attacks myelin around the nerves in your brain and spine, leaving both the myelin and the underlying nerves damaged.
The exact mechanism responsible for Copaxone’s effect is unknown. However, researchers believe that the medication can modify the immune system’s response to myelin. Another possibility is that Copaxone may induce suppressor T-cells. These are a type of immune cell that secrete anti-inflammatory proteins.
4. What are the side effects of Copaxone?
Copaxone can potentially cause side effects ranging from mild to severe. The list below includes some of the most common side effects but is not a complete list. Mild side effects may go away after a few days or weeks of consistent medication-taking, but if they persist or worsen you should speak with your doctor.
Common side effects:
- Chest pain
- Redness, swelling, inflammation, and itching at the injection site
- Skin rash
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive Sweating
- Weight change
- Back pain
Severe side effects:
- Skin damage at the injection site
- Allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis
- Post injection reaction
- Liver toxicity or failure
- Shortness of breath
If you experience any of these serious side effects, you should speak with your doctor or seek immediate medical attention if it is an emergency.
In some rare cases, patients can experience allergic reactions. Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking Copaxone.
- Skin rash
- Tightness in the throat or chest
- Difficulty talking or breathing
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
5. How much does Copaxone cost?
As with most drugs, the cost of Copaxone is not always straightforward. It will largely depend on the location of the insurance of the patient. That said, the US cash price is around $6,098 for a one-month supply which consists of 12 prefilled syringes.
6. Does Copaxone cause weight gain?
Patients prescribed Copaxone frequently wonder if they will experience weight gain as a result of the drug. Unfortunately, it is a possibility. In clinical studies, 3% of patients experienced weight gain. While it is possible, the odds of experiencing weight gain when taking Copaxone are not high enough to be cause for concern.
7. What should you avoid while taking Copaxone?
Copaxone doesn’t require patients to avoid any specific foods or activities. However, it may interact with other drugs. You must speak with your doctor about any drugs you are taking before beginning treatment.
8. How do you inject Copaxone?
Patients often wonder how to best inject Copaxone themselves. However, it is important to note that you should not attempt to give any injections without first speaking with your doctor. If your doctor has determined that self-injections are the best route, following this video about subcutaneous injections may be helpful. It is also important to note that Copaxone injection sites need to be rotated. The easiest way to do this is by tracking each injection with a journal or an injection site tracker, such as MyTherapy.
Manage your treatment with MyTherapy
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- Health report for a detailed overview