Copaxone is a medication that is often prescribed for treating certain forms of multiple sclerosis. Clinical studies show that people who took the drug for two years had significantly fewer lesions than those who took a placebo. Copaxone must be injected just under the skin once daily. While most people tolerate the drug well, side effects can include weakness, flushing, and joint pain.
What Is Copaxone?
Copaxone® (glatiramer acetate) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of certain types of multiple sclerosis (MS). Like many other MS medications, it must be taken by injection. Copaxone is injected just under the skin (subcutaneously) once a day.
At this time, it is not fully understood how Copaxone works to treat multiple sclerosis. Although the exact causes of MS are not known, it is often considered an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the protective coating around nerve fibers. It is thought that Copaxone may work by limiting this immune system response, decreasing the damage to the nerves.
Because Copaxone is a delicate molecule, it would be broken down and destroyed by the digestive system if taken by mouth. For this reason, the drug must be injected to bypass the digestive tract.
Several studies have evaluated Copaxone as an MS treatment. In one study, people who took the drug had fewer MS exacerbations, compared to people taking a placebo injection with no active ingredient. MRI brain scans showed that people had significantly fewer lesions after two years of taking Copaxone, compared with those who took the placebo.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Copaxone [package insert]. Overland Park, KS: TEVA Neuroscience, Inc.;2014 January.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed May 8, 2014.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
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