Copaxone® (glatiramer acetate)

Copaxone® (glatiramer acetate ) is another type of disease-modifying drug. It is not an interferon, but a synthetic compound made up of four amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that are found in myelin. Copaxone® seems to act as a kind of "decoy", attracting the immune system cells to itself rather than to myelin. It also makes some T-cells less active against myelin.

Its current availability and acceptance is based on a two-year clinical trial involving 251 participants with relapsing-remitting MS was published in 1998. Participants received a daily subcutaneous (under the skin) injection of Copaxone® or a placebo. The participants receiving Copaxone® had fewer relapses compared with those receiving the inactive placebo. Copaxone® was subsequently found to reduce the number and volume of active brain lesions as shown on MRI scans.

Copaxone® was well tolerated by participants, without any of the flu-like symptoms commonly seen with the interferons. The most common side effects were injection site reactions. A small number of participants also experienced a brief post-injection reaction involving shortness of breath, flushing, and chest tightening that subsided spontaneously after a few moments and had no lasting consequences.