Copaxone Immediate Post-Injection Reaction

A Dramatic but Short-Lived Reaction That Occurs in 16 Percent of People.

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Injection site reactions are common in people who take Copaxone for multiple sclerosis, leading to redness, swelling, itching, and a lump at the site where the medication is administered. Chest pain, shortness of breath, flushing, and rash may also occur.

A minority of Copaxone users—approximately 16 percent— experience a more dramatic adverse effect from Copaxone called an “immediate post-injection reaction.” This reaction may cause two or more of the following symptoms:

  • flushing (when a person experiences warmth and/or redness)
  • chest pain
  • fast heart rate
  • anxiety
  • shortness of breath
  • throat constriction
  • rash

While alarming and frightening for some, the good news is that these symptoms do not have any long-term consequences and typically go away after about 15 minutes. They also do not require treatment.

In addition, anyone can experience this reaction, although it tends to occur several months after starting treatment with Copaxone—although, this is not a hard and fast rule. The reaction may also occur more than once in a person.

What Should I Do if I Have a Copaxone Post-Injection Reaction?

The manufacturer of Copaxone advises you to call your doctor right away if you experience any of the above post-injection reactions and to not give yourself another injection until your doctor tells you to begin again.

Are There Any Tips for Avoiding the Copaxone Post-Injection Reaction?

Doctors do not know who will get the post-injection reaction and who will not.

So the best thing you can do is to be prepared and knowledgeable about what the reaction feels like. In addition, consider these tips:

  • Try to relax and not feel scared
  • Sit down
  • Keep your head upright
  • Breathe slowly
  • Have a partner, friend, or other loved one with you during an injection, if possible

Does Copaxone Have Other Side Effects I Should Be Aware Of?

Some people experience short-lived chest pain, either as part of the immediate post-injection reaction or on its own.

This chest pain should only last a few minutes. It's important to call your doctor right away if you have chest pain with Copaxone and seek medical attention right away if the pain is of an unusual duration or intensity.

Another potential side effect of Copaxone is lipoatrophy, which is a permanent loss of subcutaneous fat at injection sites that appears as large “dents” in the skin. In most people, this can be minimized by rotating injection sites and using proper injection techniques.

A Word From Verywell

Copaxone is a great disease-modifying treatment for many people, and it offers some advantages over other therapies. For instance, it is the only pregnancy category B disease-modifying treatment, and unlike interferon therapies, it is not linked to flu-like symptoms and depression.​

This all being said, it is most important that you are comfortable with the medication you are taking and that you carefully discuss any worries or concerns regarding Copaxone and its potential side effects with your neurologist.

Sources:

Copaxone. (August 2016). Teva Neuroscience: Prescribing Information.

National MS Society. (July 2016). Disease-Modifying Therapies for MS.

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