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Multiple Sclerosis, the Interferon Drugs, and Copaxone

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Interferon Precautions

Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant shouldn’t use interferon drugs. When you take them, be sure to use birth control.

Since the meds can cause depression or make it worse, people who’ve had the condition before need to keep an eye on their mood. Let a doctor know about any changes in how you feel.

Interferons also can affect your blood cells and how your liver and thyroid gland work. A few people who took Avonex had severe liver injury or liver failure. Your doctor will give you regular blood tests to be sure your body is working as it should.

Copaxone

Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) is another drug that makes relapses happen less often for people with MS. It’s a man-made version of a protein that’s part of the protective coating around the nerves in your body.

You get it as an injection under your skin three times per week.

Doctors don’t know exactly how Copaxone works, but it seems to alter the way the immune system behaves.

Side Effects of Copaxone

  • Pain, redness, and swelling where you get the injection. You should change the place where you give yourself the shot each time. Your doctor should give you a schedule that tells you when to pick a new spot.
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Flushing
  • Trouble breathing

Copaxone Precautions

You shouldn’t take the drug if you're pregnant. If you're planning to get pregnant, ask your doctor whether you need to change your medication routine before you try to have a baby.

Also ask your doctor if it’s safe to take the drug while you’re breastfeeding.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on February 22, 2015
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