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Glatiramer use while Breastfeeding

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 26, 2022.

Drugs containing Glatiramer: Copaxone, Glatopa

Glatiramer Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding

Summary of Use during Lactation

Glatiramer is the active portion of the drug, glatiramer acetate. No information is available on the excretion of glatiramer acetate into breastmilk. However, data from the manufacturer indicates that after subcutaneous injection, glatiramer undergoes rapid degradation to amino acids and shorter peptides and that it cannot be detected in the plasma, urine or feces.[1] Furthermore, any glatiramer that did reach the breastmilk would probably be destroyed in the infant's gastrointestinal tract and not absorbed, except perhaps in neonates. Follow-up of infants indicates that maternal use of glatiramer acetate does not appear to cause any adverse effects in breastfed infants. Glatiramer acetate is generally considered safe by most experts and appears to be one of the preferred disease-modifying agents for treating multiple sclerosis during breastfeeding.[2-8]

Drug Levels

Maternal Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Effects in Breastfed Infants

Nine mothers received glatiramer acetate (dosage not stated) during pregnancy and postpartum for multiple sclerosis and breastfed their infants for an average of 3.6 months (range 1 to 12 months). No infections, signs of inadequate digestion or other important ill effects were reported in their breastfed infants during the neonatal period. Follow-up of the infants at 1 year or longer found no neurological or developmental deficits in the infants except for one otherwise normal infant with delayed language development who had been breastfed for 3 months.[7]

Three mothers received glatiramer acetate (dosage not stated) for multiple sclerosis during pregnancy and postpartum. All of their infants were exclusively breastfed for 6 months and no noticeable problems were reported in any of them.[9]

In data collected from 4 countries, 41 women received glatiramer acetate and 17 women received interferon during pregnancy and postpartum for treatment of multiple sclerosis. Of these, 63% breastfed (extent not stated) their infants for a mean of 8.8 months. No mention was made of adverse reactions in breastfed infants.[10]

Among 1182 live birth pregnancies in the manufacturer’s pharmacovigilance database, breastfeeding was reported for 14.3% of women (n = 169). During the first month after birth breastfeeding was reported in 10 mothers using 20 mg/mL daily and 64 using the 40 mg/mL three times weekly dosage regimen. Follow-up questionnaires were sent to patients or their healthcare providers at 1 and 12 months postpartum. Among 40 women who completed the 12-month questionnaires, 3 received the 20 mg/mL dose, 36 received the 40 mg/mL dose, and 1 received both doses. Of 27 women with known breastfeeding practices, exclusive breastfeeding for 4 or more months was reported for 17 (63.0%) respondents. Partial breastfeeding, defined as breastfeeding for less than 4 months or mixed breast and bottle feeding, was reported for ten (37.0%) mothers. The mean duration of exposure while breastfeeding was 7 months (SD = 4.3 months) with durations up to 13 months. Of 40 breastfeeding women, infant characteristics at birth and at approximately 12 months of age were available for 18 breastfed infants, all to the 40 mg/mL dose. The mean infant weight and length at birth and 12 months were within the normal range for the World Health Organization z-score and percentiles.[11]

In a retrospective, non-interventional, study from the German Multiple Sclerosis & Pregnancy Registry , 60 infants breastfed by mothers with multiple sclerosis treated with glatiramer were compared to 60 breastfed infants of mothers with MS not treated with a disease-modifying therapy. The median duration of breastfeeding during glatiramer use was 7 months (range 0.2 to 19.1 months). No difference was found in the number of hospitalizations for infection between the two groups up to 18 months of age. No differences in weight, length, or head circumference were seen between infants in the two cohorts up to 12 months of age.[8]

Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Alternate Drugs to Consider

Immune Globulin, Interferon Beta, Methylprednisolone

References

1.
Ziemssen T, Neuhaus O, Hohlfeld R. Risk-benefit assessment of glatiramer acetate in multiple sclerosis. Drug Saf. 2001;24:979–90. [PubMed: 11735654]
2.
Bove R, Alwan S, Friedman JM, et al. Management of multiple sclerosis during pregnancy and the reproductive years: A systematic review. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;124:1157–68. [PubMed: 25415167]
3.
Fragoso YD. Glatiramer acetate to treat multiple sclerosis during pregnancy and lactation: A safety evaluation. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2014;13:1743–8. [PubMed: 25176273]
4.
Thöne J, Thiel S, Gold R, et al. Treatment of multiple sclerosis during pregnancy - safety considerations. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2017;16:523–34. [PubMed: 28333552]
5.
Dobson R, Dassan P, Roberts M, et al. UK consensus on pregnancy in multiple sclerosis: 'Association of British Neurologists' guidelines. Pract Neurol. 2019;19:106–14. [PubMed: 30612100]
6.
Dobson R, Hellwig K. Use of disease-modifying drugs during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Curr Opin Neurol. 2021;34:303–11. [PubMed: 33709977]
7.
Fragoso YD, Finkelsztejn A, Kaimen-Maciel DR, et al. Long-term use of glatiramer acetate by 11 pregnant women with multiple sclerosis: A retrospective, multicentre case series. CNS Drugs. 2010;24:969–76. [PubMed: 20806993]
8.
Ciplea AI, Kurzeja A, Thiel S, et al. Eighteen-month safety analysis of offspring breastfed by mothers receiving glatiramer acetate therapy for relapsing multiple sclerosis - COBRA study. Mult Scler. 2022:13524585221083982. [PubMed: 35362346]
9.
Hellwig K, Gold R. Glatiramer acetate and interferon-beta throughout gestation and postpartum in women with multiple sclerosis. J Neurol. 2011;258:502–3. [PubMed: 20878174]
10.
Fragoso YD, Boggild M, Macias-Islas MA, et al. The effects of long-term exposure to disease-modifying drugs during pregnancy in multiple sclerosis. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2013;115:154–9. [PubMed: 22633835]
11.
Kaplan S, Zeygarnik M, Stern T. Pregnancy, fetal, and infant outcomes following maternal exposure to glatiramer acetate during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Drug Saf. 2022 [PubMed: 35297004]

Substance Identification

Substance Name

Glatiramer

CAS Registry Number

28704-27-0 147245-92-9

Drug Class

Breast Feeding

Lactation

Milk, Human

Immunologic Adjuvants

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