Glatiramer acetate | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More

Generic Name:

glatiramer, Injectable solution

All Brands

  • Copaxone
  • Copaxone Patient Pack (Discontinued)
A discontinued drug is a drug that has been taken off the market due to safety issues, shortage of raw materials, or low market demand.
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Highlights for glatiramer

Injectable solution

Glatiramer acetate is an injected medication used to treat forms of multiple sclerosis in which symptoms flare-up and then go away.


It isn’t fully clear how glatiramer acetate works in treating multiple sclerosis. It’s believed that the drug may help to prevent your immune system from attacking the nerves in your brain and spine.


You may experience some serious reactions after injection. These may include redness to your cheeks, chest pain, anxiety, fast heartbeat, problems breathing, or skin reactions. Chest pain usually only lasts a short time. Call your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms.


Common side effects include injection site reactions (redness, swelling, pain, or itching), flushing, rash, and trouble breathing.


May cause allergic reaction

Call your doctor right away if you experience:

  • redness to your cheeks (flushing)
  • chest pain
  • anxiety
  • fast heartbeat
  • trouble breathing
  • skin reactions, such as rash, itching, hives, or swelling

Chest pain after injection

While chest pain may occur as part of a post-injection reaction, it can also occur by itself around 1 month after you start using the drug. It usually lasts a few minutes. Call your doctor right away if you experience chest pain.

May cause lipoatrophy

This drug may cause damage to the layer of fat underneath your skin (lipoatrophy). In rare cases, this drug can cause the skin around the injection site to die (necrosis). You can decrease the chance of this happening by injecting the drug in a different area each time. Appropriate injection areas include:

  • stomach area around the belly button
  • back of the upper arms
  • upper hips below the waist
  • thighs

What is glatiramer acetate?

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as a subcutaneous (under the skin) self injection.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. In relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, the symptoms flare-up for some time and then go away, sometimes for months or years.

How it works

It isn’t fully clear how this drug works to treat multiple sclerosis. It may help to prevent your immune system from attacking the nerves in your brain and spine.

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glatiramer Side Effects

Injectable solution

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with glatiramer acetate include:

  • injection site reactions (redness, pain, swelling, or itching)

  • infection

  • weakness

  • nausea

  • chest pain

  • flu-like symptoms

  • rash

  • back pain

  • anxiety

  • racing heart

  • trouble breathing (shortness of breath)

  • redness to your cheeks or other parts of your body (flushing)

Serious Side Effects

Certain serious side effects of this medication are also common side effects. If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • chest pain

  • redness to your cheeks or other parts of your body (flushing)

  • heart racing or beating fast

  • anxiety

  • symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, including:

    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your throat or tongue
    • hives
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Mild side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if the side effects are more severe or don’t go away.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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glatiramer May Interact with Other Medications

Injectable solution

Drug interactions between glatiramer acetate and others drugs haven’t been fully studied. Commonly used drugs to treat multiple sclerosis don’t appear to have important interactions.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
pregnant women
Pregnant women

This drug is a pregnancy category B drug. That means two things: 

  1. Studies of the drug in pregnant animals have not shown risk to the fetus.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in pregnant women to show if the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

Speak with your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. This drug should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if this drug passes through breast milk. Infants exposed to this drug in breast milk could experience side effects including rash, trouble breathing, or redness to their cheeks (flushing). You and your doctor should decide whether you should take this drug if you plan to breastfeed.


Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to glatiramer acetate or mannitol. Taking it a second time after an allergic reaction could be fatal.

Symptoms of allergic reaction may include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives
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How to Take glatiramer (Dosage)

Injectable solution

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Brand: Copaxone

Form: Pre-filled syringe for injection
Strength: 20 mg per mL and 40 mg per mL
Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)

Depending on the concentration of glatiramer acetate, you may have to inject yourself once each day or three times per week.

  • 20 mg/mL solution: The dose is 20 mg injected under the skin once per day.
  • 40 mg/mL solution: The dose is 40 mg injected under the skin three times per week. The doses must be injected at least 48 hours apart.
Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children and shouldn’t be used in children under the age of 18 years.

Senior Dosage (ages 65 years and older)

This medicine hasn’t been studied in adults aged 65 years and older.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed by your doctor.

If You Don’t Take it on Schedule

It’s important to take your doses at the times you were told to take them. This keeps the same amount of the drug in your system from day to day to get the most effective results. Missing doses or not taking it as scheduled can change the amount of the drug in your body from day to day and reduce the drug’s effectiveness.

If You Don’t Take It at All

Multiple sclerosis is active in your body and can damage your nervous system, even when you don’t have symptoms. If you don’t take your medication, the damage to your nervous system could get worse.

If You Stop Taking It

Taking this drug helps to slow the damage that multiple sclerosis does to your nervous system. Stopping the drug allows the damage to happen more quickly.

What To Do if You Miss a Dose

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s close to the time of your next dose, don’t inject the missed dose. Skip the missed dose and resume the regular dosing schedule. Don’t double your dose.

How Can I Tell if the Drug Is Working?

You may be able to tell that this drug is working if you notice a decrease in flare-ups.

This drug is a long-term drug treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug

This medication needs to be refrigerated

Store it in a refrigerator in temperatures from 36°F (2ºC) to 46°F (8ºC). If you can’t refrigerate this drug, you can store it for up to one month at room temperature: 59–86°F (15–30ºC).

Don’t freeze the medication.

Keep this drug away from light and high temperature.


When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you or in your carry-on bag.
  • Airport X-ray machines won’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show your prescription label to identify the medication. Keep the original prescription-labeled package with you when traveling.


  • Your first dose should be given by a doctor or nurse so you learn how to inject the medication properly.
  • Be sure to carefully follow the medication guide provided with your medication.
  • You should inject this drug under your skin (subcutaneous injection).
  • You can inject the medicine in your stomach, the back of your upper arms, your upper hips, or your thighs.
  • Rotate the site where you inject the medicine to help decrease the chance of an injection site reaction.
  • Don’t reuse needles or syringes.
  • Be sure to dispose of used needles and syringes in a puncture-resistant container to prevent injuries to you or others.

Additional Equipment Needed

To take this medication, you may need additional equipment, including:

  • alcohol wipe
  • cotton balls
  • sharps needle disposal container or puncture-resistant container
  • notebook to record your injection times


Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for glatiramer acetate.

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more appropriate for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on April 8, 2015

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 other 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.