The Effects of Copaxone on the Body

Glatiramer acetate injection (Copaxone) is an injectable drug, used to treat relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).

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Copaxone can cause nausea and vomiting. Read More »

Copaxone may cause flu-like symptoms, including wheezing, coughing, a headache, or the chills. Read More »

The fatty tissue under your skin can be damaged by the injections, which sometimes leave a dent that doesn’t go away. You can help prevent this by using a different injection site each time. Read More »

You could be more likely to get an infection, like shingles (herpes zoster), when taking Copaxone. Read More »

Pain in your chest, especially if it’s sudden, could be a sign of a serious reaction. This can last a few minutes. Call your doctor right away if you have chest pain. Read More »

You could have anxiety after your injection. Call your doctor if this happens.

See your doctor right away if you suddenly have swelling, a rash, or hives. It could be serious. Read More »

You could be more likely to have a respiratory infection, runny nose, or bronchitis while taking Copaxone. Read More »

Some people have back pain or muscle pain while taking Copaxone. Read More »

It’s common to have redness, pain, swelling, or itching where you inject Copaxone. You can reduce the risk of this by changing the place you inject every time. Read More »

Redness could be a sign of a serious reaction to Copaxone. Call your doctor right away if you have redness in your cheeks or other parts of your body. Read More »

Call your doctor right away if your heart rate goes up after your injection. Read More »

See your doctor immediately or call 911 if you have trouble breathing or feel like your throat is closing up. Read More »

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Nausea and Vomiting
Flu-Like Symptoms
Skin Damage from Injection
Infection
Chest Pain
Anxiety
Swelling, Rash, or Hives
Infection
Back Pain
Injection Site Irritation
Redness in Your Cheeks or Other Parts of Your Body
Fast Heartbeat
Breathing Problems or Tightness in Your Throat

Copaxone is very similar to the protein called myelin, which covers the nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord. This drug helps block certain white blood cells called T cells that can damage the myelin on your nerve cells.

Copaxone is also a man-made protein, and your body can react to the drug. That can cause different side effects.

Dosage

Copaxone is injected subcutaneously, which means under your skin. The dosage is either 20 milligrams (mg) per day or 40 mg three times per week. The drug comes packaged in prefilled syringes to make it easier to use. You should have your first injection of this drug in your doctor’s office or with a visiting nurse.

Immune System

Copaxone changes the immune response that affects multiple sclerosis (MS). That means it could possibly affect your immune response to other invaders or diseases. This has not been well studied.

Copaxone is antigenic, which means that your body can make antibodies to the drug. This can cause you to have a reaction to the drug itself, like wheezing, hives, or anaphylaxis.

Skin and Muscles

Some people experience damage to the fatty tissue under your skin when taking Copaxone. This is called lipoatrophy. Rarely, the skin in the injection area can die. The damage to the tissue under your skin can make a dent that may not go away.

To help prevent this damage, follow your doctor’s orders for how to give yourself injections and be sure to use a different location for each injection. Copaxone comes with clear pictures that show the best locations for giving the injection, which include:

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

Other reactions in the place where you inject the drug can include:

  • redness
  • pain
  • swelling
  • itching
  • lumps
  • rash

In the warnings and precautions section of the FDA label, people who injected the high dose of Copaxone three times per week had a lower rate of these side effects compared to those who injected the smaller dose every day.

You may also experience redness in your cheeks of other parts of your body. This could be a sign of a serious reaction to Copaxone. Call your doctor or 911 right away if you experience this side effect.

Another serious side effect that may indicate an allergic reaction is swelling, rash, or hives. Call your doctor right away if this happens suddenly.

Some people also have back pain or muscle pain while taking Copaxone.

Cardiovascular System

Pain in your chest, especially if it’s sudden, could be a serious reaction. Chest pain can last a few minutes and often happens about a month after you start using Copaxone. You could experience chest pain with the other side effects or by itself. Call your doctor right away if this happens to you.

You may also experience a rapid heartbeat. If your heart rate goes up after your injection, call your doctor immediately.

Digestive System

Nausea and vomiting are among the more common side effects of Copaxone.

Respiratory System

Copaxone has been known to cause breathing problems or tightness in your throat. Trouble breathing or feeling like your throat is closing up is a medical emergency. Call your doctor or 911 immediately if you have trouble breathing or if you feel like your throat is closing up.

Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, talk to your doctor before using Copaxone. It’s not known if it could affect your unborn child or if it’s passed through breastfeeding.