Copaxone (glatiramer acetate)

Copaxone® is a medication indicated for the management of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). It is administered by subcutaneous (under the skin) injection. Copaxone comes in two strengths, 20 mg/mL in a single-dose prefilled syringe with a white plunger, and 40 mg/mL in a single-dose prefilled syringe with a blue plunger.

What are the ingredients in Copaxone?

The active ingredient in Copaxone is glatiramer acetate.

How does Copaxone work?

The way Copaxone works is not well understood. It is thought that glatiramer acetate may act by modifying immune processes that are believed to be responsible for the development of MS.

What are the possible side effects of Copaxone?

Many clinical trials evaluated the safety and efficacy of Copaxone. The most common side effects experienced by those taking Copaxone include:

  • Flushing (redness to your cheeks or other parts of the body)
  • Injection site reaction
  • Chest pain (a post-injection reaction or later,it usually lasts a few minutes and can begin around 1 month after you start using Copaxone.)
  • Fast heart beat
  • Anxiety
  • Breathing problems or tightness in throat
  • Allergic reactions such as swelling, rash, hives, or itching
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Infections

This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects of Copaxone. For more information, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. If you notice any new or worsening side effects, including any chest pain when taking Copaxone, contact your doctor or healthcare provider right away.

Things to note about Copaxone

Copaxone is a clear liquid that comes in a prefilled syringe. It should be stored in the refrigerator in its original carton and protected from light. Once removed from the refrigerator, it should be allowed to warm to room temperature (about 20 minutes) prior to injection.

Before starting Copaxone, talk with your doctor about:

  • Any hypersensitivity to glatiramer acetate or mannitol

Copaxone may be impacted by other medications; as well as affect the way other medications work. Your doctor will be able to tell you if any medications you are currently taking fall into these categories, or if they might impact your treatment with Copaxone. Pregnant or nursing mothers should discuss the use of Copaxone, as it is not known if the medication will impact a developing fetus, or if Copaxone is excreted through breast milk.

Dosing information

Copaxone is administered by subcutaneous injection with a recommended dosage of either 20 mg daily or 40 mg 3 times a week. How often a dose is given depends on the product strength that is prescribed.

Copaxone comes in a blister pack with prefilled syringes. Visually inspect each syringe for particulate matter and discoloration prior to use. The solution should appear clear, colorless to slightly yellow. If particulate matter (things floating around) or discoloration is observed, discard the syringe.

A healthcare professional should train patients or caregivers in the proper technique for administering subcutaneous injections. Typical injection sites are the abdomen, back of the upper arm, and thigh. Sites should be rotated to minimize the chance of injection site reactions. Injections should not be administered where the skin is bruised, irritated or red, infected, or scarred. Safe disposal practices should be used for needles and syringes.

Generic availability

Copaxone is the brand name for the compound glatiramer acetate. In recent years the FDA has approved a generic version of the medication. Glatiramer acetate injection is the therapeutic equivalent to Copaxone. The generic is comparable to the original in dosage, strength, and route of administration, quality, effectiveness, and intended use. It available in two dosage strengths:

  • 20 mg/mL comes in a single-dose prefilled syringe with a light blue plunger for once-daily injection
  • 40 mg/mL comes in a single-dose prefilled syringe with a plunger for 3-times-a-week injection

Glatiramer acetate injection 20 mg per mL and glatiramer acetate injection 40 mg per mL are not interchangeable.

For additional details, read the full prescribing information of Copaxone.

Written by: Jonathan Simmons | Last reviewed: May 2015.
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