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Glatiramer Acetate

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 2, 2020.


(gla TIR a mer AS e tate)

Index Terms

  • Copolymer-1

Dosage Forms

Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling.

Solution Prefilled Syringe, Subcutaneous:

Copaxone: 20 mg/mL (1 mL); 40 mg/mL (1 mL)

Glatopa: 20 mg/mL (1 mL) [contains mannitol]

Glatopa: 40 mg/mL (1 mL)

Solution Prefilled Syringe, Subcutaneous [preservative free]:

Generic: 20 mg/mL (1 mL); 40 mg/mL (1 mL)

Brand Names: U.S.

  • Copaxone
  • Glatopa

Pharmacologic Category

  • Biological, Miscellaneous


Glatiramer is a mixture of random polymers of four amino acids; L-alanine, L-glutamic acid, L-lysine, and L-tyrosine, the resulting mixture is antigenically similar to myelin basic protein, which is an important component of the myelin sheath of nerves; glatiramer is thought to induce and activate T-lymphocyte suppressor cells specific for a myelin antigen, it is also proposed that glatiramer interferes with the antigen-presenting function of certain immune cells opposing pathogenic T-cell function


A small percentage of intact and partial hydrolyzed drug is presumed to enter lymphatic circulation.


SubQ: Large percentage hydrolyzed locally

Use: Labeled Indications

Multiple sclerosis, relapsing: Treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, including clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease.


Hypersensitivity to glatiramer acetate, mannitol, or any component of the formulation

Dosing: Adult

Note:Glatiramer 20 mg/mL and 40 mg/mL formulations are not interchangeable.

Multiple sclerosis, relapsing: SubQ: 20 mg once daily or 40 mg 3 times per week administered at least 48 hours apart.

Dosage adjustment for concomitant therapy: Significant drug interactions exist, requiring dose/frequency adjustment or avoidance. Consult drug interactions database for more information.

Dosing: Geriatric

Refer to adult dosing.


SubQ: For SubQ administration in the arms, abdomen, hips, or thighs; rotate injection sites to possibly minimize the occurrence of lipoatrophy. Do not administer IV. Administer the 40 mg dose on the same 3 days each week (eg, Monday, Wednesday, Friday) at least 48 hours apart. Allow syringe to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes prior to injection. Discard unused portions.


Store at 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F). If needed, may store at 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F) for up to 1 month (refrigeration is preferred). Avoid exposure to high temperatures; protect from intense light. Do not freeze. Discard if syringe freezes.

Drug Interactions

There are no known significant interactions.

Adverse Reactions

The following adverse drug reactions and incidences are derived from product labeling unless otherwise specified.

Adverse reactions were generally less common in trials with patients treated with 40 mg per mL three times per week than in trials with patients treated with 20 mg per mL per day.


Cardiovascular: Chest pain (2% to 13%), vasodilation (3% to 20%)

Dermatologic: Skin rash (2% to 19%)

Gastrointestinal: Nausea (2% to 15%)

Hypersensitivity: Type I hypersensitivity reaction (2% to 16%; postinjection)

Immunologic: Development of IgG antibodies (3 months: ≥3 x baseline: 80%; 12 months: greater than baseline: 90%; ≥3 x baseline: 30%)

Infection: Infection (30%), influenza (14%)

Local: Erythema at injection site (22% to 43%), itching at injection site (6% to 27%), pain at injection site (10% to 40%), residual mass at injection site (6% to 26%), swelling at injection site (6% to 19%)

Nervous system: Anxiety (13%), pain (20%)

Neuromuscular & skeletal: Asthenia (22%), back pain (12%)

Respiratory: Dyspnea (3% to 14%), nasopharyngitis (11%)

1% to 10%:

Cardiovascular: Edema (8%), facial edema (3%), palpitations (9%), peripheral edema (3%), syncope (3%), tachycardia (5%)

Dermatologic: Erythema of skin (2%), hyperhidrosis (7%), pruritus (5%), urticaria (3%)

Endocrine & metabolic: Weight gain (3%)

Gastrointestinal: Dysphagia (2%), gastroenteritis (6%), vomiting (7%)

Genitourinary: Urinary urgency (5%), vulvovaginal candidiasis (4%)

Hematologic & oncologic: Benign skin neoplasm (2%), lymphadenopathy (7%)

Hypersensitivity: Hypersensitivity reaction (3%)

Local: Atrophy at injection site (≤2%), fibrosis at injection site (2%), hypersensitivity reaction at injection site (4%), inflammation at injection site (2% to 9%), lipoatrophy at injection site (≤2%)

Nervous system: Chills (2% to 3%), migraine (4%), nervousness (2%), speech disturbance (2%)

Neuromuscular & skeletal: Laryngospasm (2%), tremor (4%)

Ophthalmic: Diplopia (3%)

Respiratory: Bronchitis (6%), cough (6%), flu-like symptoms (3%), rhinitis (7%), viral respiratory tract infection (3%)

Miscellaneous: Fever (3% to 6%)


Hematologic & oncologic: Thrombocytopenia

Infection: Herpes simplex infection

Neuromuscular & skeletal: Arthralgia


Cardiovascular: Acute myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac failure, cardiomegaly, cardiomyopathy, cerebrovascular accident, coronary occlusion, deep vein thrombophlebitis, pericardial effusion, peripheral vascular disease, pulmonary embolism, thrombosis

Endocrine & metabolic: Hypercholesterolemia

Gastrointestinal: Cholelithiasis, enlargement of abdomen, eructation, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, gastrointestinal ulcer

Genitourinary: Nephrosis, urinary frequency

Hematologic & oncologic: Acute leukemia, bladder carcinoma, breast carcinoma, CNS neoplasm, genitourinary neoplasm, lung carcinoma, ovarian carcinoma, pseudolymphoma

Hepatic: Hepatic cirrhosis, hepatic failure, hepatic injury, hepatitis, jaundice

Hypersensitivity: Nonimmune anaphylaxis, tongue edema

Infection: Sepsis

Local: Tissue necrosis at injection site

Nervous system: Abnormal dreams, aphasia, brain edema, hydrocephalus, meningitis, neuralgia, seizure

Neuromuscular & skeletal: Muscle spasm, myelitis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus

Ophthalmic: Glaucoma

Renal: Renal failure syndrome

Respiratory: Pleural effusion


Concerns related to adverse effects:

• Chest pain: May or may not occur with the immediate postinjection reaction; described as a transient pain usually resolving in a few minutes; often unassociated with other symptoms. Episodes usually begin ≥1 month after initiation of treatment.

• Hepatic toxicity: Liver failure and hepatitis with jaundice (sometimes severe) have occurred from days to years after initiation of therapy; consider discontinuation of therapy if signs and symptoms occur.

• Hypersensitivity reactions: Anaphylactoid reactions (rare) have been reported.

• Immune response: Although there has not been a systematic evaluation of glatiramer’s potential to affect other immune functions, it may interfere with recognition of foreign antigens undermining the body's tumor surveillance and defense system against infection.

• Lipoatrophy: May occur locally at injection site at various times after treatment (sometimes after several months) and may not resolve; to possibly minimize occurrence, advise patients to follow proper injection technique and rotate site with each injection. Skin necrosis has also been observed.

• Systemic reactions: Postinjection systemic reactions may occur immediately (within seconds to minutes of injection; majority of reactions observed within 1 hour) and in a substantial percentage of patients (~16% [20 mg/mL] and ~2% [40 mg/mL] in studies); symptoms (anxiety, chest pain, constriction of the throat, dyspnea, flushing, palpitations, tachycardia, urticaria) are usually self-limited and transient. These symptoms generally occur several months after initiation of treatment.

Other warnings/precautions:

• Antigenic: Glatiramer acetate is antigenic and may possibly lead to the induction of untoward host responses. Glatiramer acetate-reactive antibodies (IgG subtype) form in most patients.

Reproductive Considerations

In general, disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) are stopped prior to a planned pregnancy, except in females at high risk of MS activity (AAN [Rae-Grant 2018]). When disease-modifying therapy is needed in females planning a pregnancy (eg, high risk of disease reactivation), glatiramer acetate may be considered until pregnancy is confirmed. Delaying pregnancy is recommended for females with persistent high disease activity (ECTRIMS/EAN [Montalban 2018]).

Pregnancy Considerations

Information related to the use of glatiramer acetate in pregnancy is available (Fragoso 2014; Herbstritt 2016; MacDonald 2019; Nguyen 2019; Sandberg-Wollheim 2018).

In general, disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) are not initiated during pregnancy, except in females at high risk of MS activity (AAN [Rae-Grant 2018]). When disease-modifying therapy is needed in females planning a pregnancy (eg, high risk of disease reactivation), glatiramer acetate may be considered until pregnancy is confirmed, and in select cases (eg, women with active disease), use may be continued during pregnancy (ECTRIMS/EAN [Montalban 2018]).

Patient Education

What is this drug used for?

• It is used to lower the number of setbacks with MS (multiple sclerosis).

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

• Irritation where the shot is given

• Upset stomach or throwing up

• Feeling tired or weak

• Back pain

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

• Infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal

• Liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes

• Feeling confused

• Chest pain or pressure

• Fast or abnormal heartbeat

• Dizziness or passing out

• Flushing

• Anxiety

• Sweating a lot

• Shortness of breath

• Swollen gland

• Swelling

• Pain, color, temperature change, or a dent where the injection was given

• Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a limited summary of general information about the medicine’s uses from the patient education leaflet and is not intended to be comprehensive. This limited summary does NOT include all information available about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. For a more detailed summary of information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine, please speak with your healthcare provider and review the entire patient education leaflet.

Frequently asked questions

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.