Copaxone: what is the action of the medication and side effects?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that is still little talked about and that, for this reason and due to its non-specific symptoms, can have a long-term diagnosis. It is an autoimmune disorder that can be triggered or influenced by external conditions in people who are already predisposed.

MS still has no cure, but it already has options that can reduce the occurrences of crises, reducing the progression of the disease. Among the drugs is Copaxone, an injectable solution approved by ANVISA and available at SUS.


What is Copaxone?

Copaxone is an injectable immunomodulator (disease-modifying drug), indicated for the control of relapsing remissive multiple sclerosis (EMRR), also known as relapsing-relapsing – a specific type of the disease.

The active substance is glatiramer acetate and its use demonstrates a decrease in the frequency of relapses of the outbreaks and stabilization of the condition, as it is believed that its action occurs by inhibiting the inflammatory process, the main cause of MS, in the central nervous system.

Copaxone has different milligrams, which act in the same way, but allow fewer applications without interfering with the expected action. Thus, the medication can be applied daily or up to 3 times a week, according to the dosage and medical advice.

The syringes are for single use and come filled with 1mL of solution.

Despite being an injection, the administration of Copaxone can be done at home, by the person being treated.

This is because it is a subcutaneous injection and can be applied to regions such as the thigh, lumbar side, arm and abdomen. With some medical advice and training, using the medication at home is simple and safe.

What is Copaxone for?

Copaxone is indicated for the type of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (or relapsing remitting), reducing the frequency of relapses (relapses). According to the package leaflet, the drug only reduces the episodes, it does not necessarily prevent the occurrence, as soon as the disease has no cure yet.

In addition, the use of the drug is also indicated for people who had a well-defined first clinical episode and who are at risk of developing clinically defined MS (EMCD).

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis can have very different characteristics between each patient. Therefore, the ways of classifying the disease take into account the symptoms, the frequency of the outbreaks and the progression of the condition.

In general, it is an inflammatory autoimmune condition in which the immune cells, instead of protecting the body, attack and attack the myelin, which makes up a protective layer of the fibers of the central nervous system (this layer is called myelin sheaths).

Myelin has the function of assisting in the communication of electrical impulses between cells, allowing the correct communication between the systems of the body.

As a result of these inflammations, demyelination (the degradation of the myelin sheath) occurs, which can be recovered in whole or in part.

It is considered 4 types or states of the disease (Isolated Clinical Syndrome, Recurrent remitting MS, Secondary Progressive, Primary Progressive), 2 of which can be treated with Copaxone. See more about the frames that can use Copaxone:

Isolated Clinical Syndrome (SCI)

Isolated Clinical Syndrome (SCI) is characterized by an isolated episode, lasting less than 24 hours, including common symptoms or related to multiple sclerosis. In general, most people who have a single clinical episode will develop the disease years later.

Those who are at high risk of brain injury (detected by exams) are oriented to treatment. However, it is possible that the person is classified as low risk of developing MS, being more distant from the chances of having another episode in the future.

Recurring Sender EM (EMRR)

Recurrent remitting MS is the most common type, reaching up to 85% of the cases. They are characterized by the occurrence of outbreaks and improvements (which can be after treatment or spontaneous).

In general, people show, in the first years of the disease, full recovery after the outbreaks, without consequences or irreversible damage.

However, the condition can be modified and, after a few years, patients may present damage after the outbreaks (characterizing the progressive secondary type of MS).

In these cases, the use of medications aims to reduce the episodes.

How is the application of Copaxone?

Copaxone is an injectable medicine, but it is easy to apply. When instructed to use, each patient should receive training by health professionals, learning the correct and safe ways of application. Thus, it is possible to administer the dosages at home, with the help of someone or by self-application.

The injection is subcutaneous, this means that it must be done under the skin, without reaching the muscle tissue.

According to the package insert, it is indicated that the aspect of the solution is analyzed before being used. Its appearance should be clear and slightly yellow, with no observable particles.

It is also important that the injections are done at the same time, on the days stipulated by the doctor. There are several options for administration, requiring rotation. That is, with each application, the location must be changed to avoid irritation or pain.

As the medicine is stored under refrigeration, after removing a blister with a new syringe, it is necessary to leave it for 20 minutes at room temperature. With the hands and the application site properly sanitized, it is necessary to remove the protective film from the needle.

Holding the syringe as if it were a pen with one hand, make a small skin fold at the application site with the other free hand. Insert the needle at a 90º angle and inject the medicine by pushing the plunger.

After all the solution is injected, remove the needle from the skin and press the area with a cotton ball without massaging.

These are instructions on the package insert for administration, but it is important to know that the medical team that assists each patient must do the training for the use of the medication, providing guidance on the correct and safe way to apply it.

Side effects: what does the label indicate?

Like other medications, Copaxone can have side effects in some people. This means that not all will have any adverse reactions and that, if they occur, the intensity and duration can be variable. According to the package leaflet, as it is an injection, the most common reactions involve manifestations at the application site, such as:

  • Erythema (flushing);
  • Ache;
  • Nodule;
  • Itching;
  • Edema (purple);
  • Inflammation;
  • Allergies (hypersensitivity).

Although more rarely, lipoatrophy (atrophy of fatty tissue) and skin necrosis (severe injury with death of skin cells) is possible. Rotation is very important to reduce the occurrence of nodules, pain, bruises and other injuries due to application.

In addition, the package insert indicates that some other reactions were reported shortly after administration of the drug, which are:

  • Flushing (vasodilation);
  • Chest pain;
  • Lack of air;
  • Palpitation or tachycardia;
  • Anxiety;
  • Hives and a feeling of closing the throat.

Do you have contraindications?

Yes. The package insert points out that Copaxone is not indicated for patients with hypersensitivity ( allergy ) to glatiramer acetate or mannitol. There are not enough or specific studies for groups of pregnant or lactating women, the elderly and children (below 12 years old), and there should be no use of the medication by these groups.

In case of doubt, it is always necessary to talk to doctors who accompany the treatment.

Copaxone fattening?

The Copaxone package insert points out some reactions listed in clinical studies, including weight gain, a condition that is listed as common. But it is worth remembering that a number of factors can affect weight, causing changes.

Food, anxiety and other conditions can be responsible or contribute to the increase in body mass.

Copaxone and pregnancy: can it be used?

The Copaxone package insert indicates that the drug is not recommended during pregnancy. Women should inform their doctor if they discover pregnancy during or after using the medicine. Those who are breastfeeding should warn about the condition as soon as it is not known about the passage of the medicine into breast milk.

What is the Copaxone laboratory?

Copaxone is produced by the pharmaceutical industry Teva. The Israeli company is currently the largest producer of generic drugs in the world, assisting patients with various diseases, including oncological, respiratory, neurological, hematological and infectious diseases.

For those who have Multiple Sclerosis and are going to be treated with Copaxone, the pharmaceutical industry Teva offers the TevaCuidar Program, which is an initiative aimed at the assistance and assistance of patients and close people.

Just register on the program’s website to receive information and news about treatments, medications and discoveries about MS. In addition, there is an educational assistance network, providing access to and closer contact with specialists in multiple sclerosis.

What is the price of Copaxone 20mg and 40mg?

Copaxone is a high-cost medication, ranging from R $ 5,000 to R $ 6,500 *. Patients who are in progress or are going to start a legal process to obtain treatment, and have to submit a legal quote, can count on the assistance of legal advice on medication , from Consulta Remédios.

Just fill out a form and, quickly and safely, Copaxone or other medication is budgeted in a personalized way.

It is worth remembering that it is the population’s right to have access to medicines and treatments indicated by medical professionals and that it is possible to go to court to obtain them.

In these cases, a series of documents is requested, such as the medical report, the prescription and the legal budget.

* Average price consulted in December 2019. Prices may change.

Copaxone by SUS: how can you achieve it?

Yes. Copaxone 20mg and, more recently, 40mg are incorporated into SUS, in the scope of assistance to people with Multiple Sclerosis.

The Unified Health System has a National Policy for Attention to Patients with Neurological Disease, which offers around 44 procedures for care and treatment for people with MS and other neurological diseases.

To have access to treatment, patients must have a medical indication for Copaxone, forwarding the necessary documents to specialized health units for high-cost medication.

When delivering the request, an administrative process opens, which will be evaluated by the responsible team. All information on how to proceed and what necessary referrals should be clarified with the medical team that accompanies each patient.

Multiple sclerosis is one of the conditions that had a big jump in terms of treatments. Today, patients have resources ranging from exams to medications, capable of assisting in the monitoring and reduction of symptoms and damage related to the condition.

Copaxone is among the drug options that have shown good results. The medication is already part of the SUS assistance policy, which facilitates and accelerates even more the access of patients to increasingly effective treatments.

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