Copaxone or glatiramer acetate works a little differently than the interferon medications for multiple sclerosis. No one is exactly sure how it works, but it does decrease the number of relapses. It also lessens the number of new or active lesions or scars.
This may not happen for all users. The studies show that it reduces relapses for 29% of users. In a long term study lasting 10 years, users had 80% fewer relapses.
How it works
Researchers think that glatiramer acetate works by changing bad white blood cells or lymphocytes into good lymphocytes. The good lymphocytes cross the blood brain barrier into the CNS and stops the damage which results in the scars and demyelination common to MS.
In a healthy immune system, nothing should cross the blood brain barrier. But in MS the immune system is thought to be over active. This causes the lymphocytes, good and bad, to go where they shouldn't - into the brain.
Fortunately for Cir, there were no side-effects with this MS medication. His main problem was having to take a shot everyday.
Injection Site Tips
Need tips on dealing with your injection therapy? Click on the link to find injection site tips and advice.
There is another side-effect some people experience when they use glatiramer acetate. It happens right after an injection and lasts from 5 - 15 minutes. It includes having a feeling of anxiety, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and flushing.
Cir didn't experience any of these. He did, however, feel a little jittery the first few times he used it.
He stayed with the glatiramer acetate injections the longest of all the ms medicines. The needle was shorter and thinner, for one thing. I'm sure that probably had a lot to do with it.
Cir started taking Copaxone while he was still working. He took them at night and rotated the site area everyday. This would help to lessen any site reactions. Making sure that the medicine is at room temperature before taking it helps also.
I would give him the shots in the back of his arms, butt, and also the hips. I was pretty nervous about it at first. After awhile it gets easier. And if I'm upset, I can always get back at him (just kidding...really).
Thank You, Shared Solutions!
In the beginning, the injection syringes had to be made up. The medicine came in a kit which contained a months worth of copaxone and all the supplies necessary to administer it. When Shared Solutions came out with the prepared syringes, we were ecstatic. Well maybe not ecstatic, but pretty happy.
Cir got about 15 minutes of his life back. What is that? Almost 2 extra hours a week. 124 hours a year. Pretty significant, don't you think? Thank you copaxone!
Later Cir also tried Betaseron; another interferon. Click here to learn about his Betaseron experience.