Copaxone® (glatiramer acetate)


Copaxone® (glatiramer acetate) is a disease modifying treatment for Relapsing Remitting MS

It is a synthetic compound made up of four amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that are found in myelin. Copaxone acts as a “decoy”, attracting the immune system cells to itself rather than to myelin. It also makes some T-cells less active against myelin.


Benefits shown in clinical trials

In clinical trials people taking Copaxone had about 30% fewer relapses than people taking placebo and MRI scans showed fewer, smaller or no new areas of active MS.


How is Copaxone administered?

Copaxone is administered as a daily injection with an automatic injection device to aid self injecting. Your health professional should advise how to do the injections and offer advice where required.


Side Effects

The most common side effects include injection site reactions such as lipoatrophy (which involes a permanent indentation in the skin), itching, swelling, redness and sometimes pain at the site.

Some people also experience a post-injection reaction involving shortness of breath, flushing, and chest tightening. This usually subsides spontaneously after 15-30 minutes without further intervention or long-term problems. If symptoms last longer than 30 minutes it is recommended that you contact your health professional immediately or go straight to your nearest hospital.

Common side effects

  • injection site reactions
  • lipoatrophy (indentations in the skin)
  • headache
  • depression, anxiety
  • nausea
  • feeling weak
  • chest pain, pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • gastrointestinal changes

Less common side effects

  • blood cell changes
  • extra heartbeats
  • thyroid changes
  • dilation of blood vessels
  • immediate post-injection reaction (IPIR)

A full list of side effects and further information about Copaxone is available in the Medsafe sheet for Copaxone



Special Authority must be approved by the Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Assessment Committee (MSTAC) before funding is approved. Applications will be considered by MSTAC at its regular meetings and approved subject to eligibility according to the Entry and Stopping criteria.

For details of the current criteria and how to apply for funded treatment see Disease Modifying Treatment Special Authority Criteria

Treatment with glatiramer acetate is permitted only if treatment with both natalizumab and fingolimod is not tolerated or treatment with both would beclinically inappropriate. Glatiramer acetate will not be funded as second line treatment if EDSS progression has occurred on treatment with natalizumab or fingolimod. Patients who have an increasing relapse rate over 12 months of treatment(compared with the relapse rate on starting treatment) and who do not meet the EDSS Stopping Criteria at annual review may switch from either of the beta-interferon’s [interferonbeta-1-beta or interferonbeta-1-alpha] to glatiramer acetate or vice versa. Patients may switch from either of the beta-interferon’s [interferonbeta-1-beta or interferonbeta-1-alpha] to glatiramer acetate or vice versa for increased relapses only once, after which they will be required to stop funded treatment if they meet any of the Stopping Criteria at annual review(including the criterion relating to increasing relapse rate over 12 months of treatment). If a relapse has resulted in an increased EDSS score that potentially may lead to discontinuation of treatment according to stopping criteria, a period of 6 months is allowed from the start of the relapse for recovery to occur. In this setting anti-JCV antibody positive status maybe accepted as a clinically inappropriate reason for treatment with natalizumab.


Feedback from other patients

It is often helpful to review how other people with MS have liked or tolerated a treatments and the benefits and side effects they have experienced.

Patients Like Me – Copaxone


What to do about a bad reaction to medication

Reports from health professionals are preferred as doctors and other prescribers, pharmacists and nurses usually are able to provide more detailed information about the medications in use and other medical history from patient records that are helpful in evaluating the adverse reaction. However anyone may report a suspected adverse event or reaction to medication taken to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM).

For instructions and further information