Copaxone

1 What is Copaxone?

Brand: Copaxone, Glatopa

Generic: Glatiramer acetate

Glatiramer subcutaneous injection is an immunomodulator that has been utilized in patients with relapsing-remitting forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Its therapeutic effect reduces that frequency of relapse. It must be noted, however, that glatiramer is not used to cure MS.

Multiple Sclerosis

It is available in solution, powder for solution and kit forms.

2 What to Know Before Using

You and your physician should have a detailed discussion about the pros and cons of Glatiramer before deciding to use it in your treatment.

The following factors must be considered:

  • Allergies: If you are allergic to mannitol, do not use glatiramer. Inform your doctor if you want allergies to this medication or its components. You also need to make your health care team aware of allergies to food, dye, preservatives, and/or animals.
  • Age: Studies have not shown glatiramer to have any age-related effects.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Glatiramer has been found to have no effects on the fetus. There is also not enough evidence to suggest that this medication can pose risks to infants who are breastfed.
  • Food and Drug interactions: Inform your physician about any medication you are currently taking. Do not take any OTC drugs without consulting your doctor first. Talk to your healthcare team about food that may interact with glatiramer. Alcohol consumption and tobacco use may pose harmful effects. Consult your physician about this.
  • Other medical conditions: Inform your doctor if you currently have an infection. Glatiramer can decrease your body’s immune response to infection.

3 Proper Usage

Glatiramer should be used according to your physician’s instructions. It is usually administered in a clinic or hospital. However, if you are self-injecting, there are special directions you need to follow.

Discuss with your doctor the proper steps of self-injecting glatiramer and ask him to demonstrate it if possible.

Do not administer the medication if the liquid is cloudy or has particles. Discard it properly. Ask your healthcare provider about proper disposal methods.

Dosing and timing are individualized and differs from person to person. Always follow doctor’s orders.

  • The dosage for adults is usually 20 mg once a day or 40 mg 3 times a week with a 48-hour interval.
  • Dosage for children is to be determined by the physician.

For missed doses, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s close to the next dosage, skip it and follow the regular timing.

Glatiramer should be stored in the refrigerator but is not to be frozen. It can be stored for up to a month.

4 Precautions to Take

Keep your doctor’s appointments. This way, the doctor can monitor your progress and condition. There are several precautions you need to take note of.

Reactions may occur in some patients.

Common symptoms that usually go away without treatment include:

  • Chest pain that lasts for a few minutes only
  • Arrhythmia
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Hives
  • Tightness in the throat

If these symptoms persist, call your physician immediately.

Glatiramer can also cause a depression under the skin at the injection site. However, inform your doctor right away if you have:

  • Indented skin
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Bruising
  • Sloughing of skin

Consult your doctor first before discontinuing the medication.

5 Potential Side Effects

Some people may not experience any side effects when using glatiramer.

However, the most common ones that don’t need immediate medical attention include:

Less common side effects include double vision and weight gain.

Call your physician if these symptoms persist and become troublesome. However, call your physician immediately if you are experiencing:

Less common adverse effects that need immediate medical attention include:

  • Agitation
  • Bloating
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fever
  • Throbbing and severe headache
  • Itching of the vagina or outside genitals
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Purple spots under the skin
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Red streaks on the skin
  • Small lumps under the skin
  • Spasm of the throat, sweating
  • Strong urge to urinate
  • White curd-like vaginal discharge with or without odor
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet

Rare reactions also include:

  • Back pain
  • Hematuria
  • Burning or stinging of the skin
  • Decreased sexual ability
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty with moving
  • Thrush
  • Ear pain
  • Fast breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Menstrual pain or changes
  • Speech and vision problems
  • Painful cold sores
  • Blisters on the lips, nose, eyes, or genitals

If you experience side effects that are not listed above, inform your physician or healthcare team immediately.

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