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How long can you take Copaxone?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on May 19, 2020.

Official Answer

  • Copaxone is considered a long-term (life-long) treatment and should be administered for as long as it is effective or tolerated.
  • Copaxone has shown to significantly reduce the number of relapses in people with MS. 34 to 56% were relapse-free after two years.
  • Copaxone modifies immune processes that are thought to be responsible for the development of Multiple sclerosis.

Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) is a combination of four amino acids that may be used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults, such as clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease.

Copaxone is considered a long-term treatment for MS and it has been available for the treatment of MS for more than ten years. Copaxone has been shown to significantly reduce the number of relapses in people with MS.

How does Copaxone work?

Experts aren’t sure exactly how Copaxone works in MS but it is thought to modify immune processes that are believed to be responsible for the development of MS.

Research has shown that after administration of glatiramer, glatiramer-specific suppressor T-cells are induced and activated in the peripheral nervous system. Although glatiramer is thought to modify the immune system response to MS, it does not appear to modify naturally occurring immune responses, although this has not been systematically evaluated.

Glatiramer acetate is a combination of the acetate salts of four naturally occurring amino acids: L-glutamic acid, L-alanine, L-tyrosine, and L-lysine.

Copaxone reduces the frequency of relapses, and some studies have reported a delay in the progression of the disease.

How is Copaxone given?

Copaxone is given by subcutaneous injection (under the skin) into the arms, abdomen, hips, or thighs. There are two recognized strengths of Copaxone, 20mg/ml and 40mg/ml, and the following specific dosing schedules correspond to each one:

  • Copaxone 20mg/mL, administered once daily, every day
  • Copaxone 40mg/ml, administered three times per week (at least 48 hours between dosages).

How effective is Copaxone?

Copaxone significantly reduces the number of relapses in people with MS. The results from two separate trials have reported:

  • 34 to 56% of people taking Copaxone were relapse-free after two years
  • For those that did relapse, an average of 0.6 to 1.2 relapses in 2 years was reported, compared with 1.7 to 2.4 relapses in 2 years in those who took a placebo
  • It took an average of 287 to 700 days before people had their first relapse while taking Copaxone, compared to 150 to 198 days in those taking placebo
  • 78 to 80% showed no disease progression compared to only 52 to 75% administered placebo.

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