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Michael Williamson was 16 years old when he noticed a few odd cramps one day at a cross-country track meet. His coach told him to run them out. A day or so later, he woke up paralyzed from the waist down.

After a lot of testing and poking and prodding, Williamson was told he had something called transverse myelitis. "I saw a lot of specialists, but no one mentioned MS," says Williamson, now 27 and the owner of an adventure travel company in Colorado.

Push for Earlier Treatment

If Williamson had his first symptoms today, he would likely start a disease-modifying drug right away. Doctors tend to diagnose MS more quickly than before.

Each time you have symptoms, it’s called a flare-up, relapse, or attack. Doctors used to wait for a second bout to be sure you have MS. Since 2010, though, doctors may diagnose MS after the first flare if both of these are true:

  • Symptoms of MS last for at least 24 hours. They could be as dramatic as Williamson’s paralysis, or more subtle, like an arm or leg with numbness that doesn't go away when you shake it out. A sudden blind spot or blurry vision in one eye can be a symptom, too. (Within 1 to 2 weeks, vision often returns to normal.)
  • An MRI shows changes in the brain. In MS, your system goes awry and attacks the tough sheath around the nerves of your brain and spine, called myelin. An MRI scan can show early damage here.

That means you and your doctor can start fighting MS sooner than in the past.

Hopes and Benefits of Prompt Treatment

Researchers aren’t sure yet whether MS drugs will change the ups and downs of the illness over the long run. Most people do not become severely disabled. In a smaller group who may face a disability, could early use of drugs keep someone out of a wheelchair 10 years from now?

"That's still uncertain," says Mark Keegan, MD, a Mayo Clinic neurologist. "There are some ongoing studies that might tell us more, but it's a hard question to answer."

However, research does suggest two benefits from prompt treatment:

  • Taking medicine soon after your first symptoms cuts down on how many times those symptoms come back.
  • People who take MS medicines early are less likely to have a disability -- at least over the short term -- compared with people who don't take MS meds. That means that within 6 months to 2 years after diagnosis, people who started medicine early were less disabled than those who began medicine later.

What if you've already had MS symptoms for a while? Maybe it took some time to get a diagnosis. Your doctor is likely to suggest that you start taking a disease-modifying drug. Even if you don't start the medicine at your earliest symptoms, you may still have fewer relapses.

dose three times a week

Dose three times a week

Use this discussion guide to talk with your doctor about how 3-times-a-week COPAXONE® 40 mg may work for you.

COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is indicated for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

Important Safety Information about COPAXONE®

Do not take COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.

Some patients report a short-term reaction right after injecting COPAXONE®. This reaction can involve flushing (feeling of warmth and/or redness), chest tightness or pain with heart palpitations, anxiety, and trouble breathing. These symptoms generally appear within minutes of an injection, last about 15 minutes, and do not require specific treatment. During the postmarketing period, there have been reports of patients with similar symptoms who received emergency medical care. If symptoms become severe, call the emergency phone number in your area. Call your doctor right away if you develop hives, skin rash with irritation, dizziness, sweating, chest pain, trouble breathing, or severe pain at the injection site. If any of the above occurs, do not give yourself any more injections until your doctor tells you to begin again.

Chest pain may occur either as part of the immediate postinjection reaction or on its own. This pain should only last a few minutes. You may experience more than one such episode, usually beginning at least one month after starting treatment. Tell your doctor if you experience chest pain that lasts for a long time or feels very intense.

A permanent indentation under the skin (lipoatrophy or, rarely, necrosis) at the injection site may occur, due to local destruction of fat tissue. Be sure to follow proper injection technique and inform your doctor of any skin changes.

The most common side effects in studies of COPAXONE® are redness, pain, swelling, itching, or a lump at the site of injection, flushing, rash, shortness of breath, and chest pain. These are not all of the possible side effects of COPAXONE®. For a complete list, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Tell your doctor about any side effects you have while taking COPAXONE®.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

support from the start

24/7 support from the start

Receive one-on-one support and free tools when you join our Shared Solutions® program. Choose a therapy with 24/7 support you can trust.

COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is indicated for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

Important Safety Information about COPAXONE®

Do not take COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.

Some patients report a short-term reaction right after injecting COPAXONE®. This reaction can involve flushing (feeling of warmth and/or redness), chest tightness or pain with heart palpitations, anxiety, and trouble breathing. These symptoms generally appear within minutes of an injection, last about 15 minutes, and do not require specific treatment. During the postmarketing period, there have been reports of patients with similar symptoms who received emergency medical care. If symptoms become severe, call the emergency phone number in your area. Call your doctor right away if you develop hives, skin rash with irritation, dizziness, sweating, chest pain, trouble breathing, or severe pain at the injection site. If any of the above occurs, do not give yourself any more injections until your doctor tells you to begin again.

Chest pain may occur either as part of the immediate postinjection reaction or on its own. This pain should only last a few minutes. You may experience more than one such episode, usually beginning at least one month after starting treatment. Tell your doctor if you experience chest pain that lasts for a long time or feels very intense.

A permanent indentation under the skin (lipoatrophy or, rarely, necrosis) at the injection site may occur, due to local destruction of fat tissue. Be sure to follow proper injection technique and inform your doctor of any skin changes.

The most common side effects in studies of COPAXONE® are redness, pain, swelling, itching, or a lump at the site of injection, flushing, rash, shortness of breath, and chest pain. These are not all of the possible side effects of COPAXONE®. For a complete list, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Tell your doctor about any side effects you have while taking COPAXONE®.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

lower your co pay

Your co-pay for COPAXONE®
40 mg could be $0 per month*

With COPAXONE® 40 mg, your co-pay could be lowered to $0 per month out-of-pocket.*

Injections for 3-times-a-week COPAXONE® 40 mg should be at least 48 hours apart.

* Certain limits and restrictions apply.

Terms and Conditions include: COPAXONE Co-pay Solutions® is open to both new and existing patients who are residents of the US or Puerto Rico and who have commercial prescription insurance coverage for COPAXONE® 40 mg. The offer is not valid for uninsured patients or patients covered in whole or in part by Medicaid, Medicare, TRICARE, or any other federal or state government pharmaceutical assistance plan or program (regardless of whether a specific prescription is covered), or by private health benefit programs that reimburse for the entire cost of prescription drugs. Use of this offer must be consistent with the terms of any drug benefit provided by a health insurer, health plan, or private third-party payor. This offer is void where prohibited by law, taxed, or restricted. No additional purchase is required. This offer is valid only at participating pharmacies and may be changed or discontinued at any time without notice. This program is not health insurance.

COPAXONE® is a registered trademark of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Shared Solutions® is a registered service mark of Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
COPAXONE Co-pay Solutions® is a registered trademark of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

© 2014 Teva Neuroscience, Inc. COP-41928

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