Feb. 4, 2014 -- If you have multiple sclerosis (MS) and take the drug Copaxone, you may now be able to take it three times a week instead of every day.
The FDA approved a 40-milligram dose for people with relapsing-remitting MS. The 20-milligram daily dose will still be available.
Researchers studied the higher dose in more than 1,400 people with MS. After a year of treatment, relapse rates were 34% lower than in those taking a placebo. The three-times-a-week treatment is safe and effective, Omar Khan, MD, Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan, says in the company release.
New MS lesions in the brain were also significantly lower in people taking the higher dose of Copaxone.
About 35% of people had reactions to the injection, which included flushing, chest tightness or pain with heart palpitations, anxiety, and trouble breathing. Most reactions resolved within 15 minutes after the injection, but a few people needed emergency medical care.
Copaxone’s manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, says the three-times-per-week regimen “will be available to patients within days." If you’re interested in the new dose, you can call your doctor or Teva’s Shared Solutions patient support center (1-800-887-8100) and make a request, the release says.
Shared Solutions also provides 24/7 nurse support and financial and benefits information. They can also help you find a pharmacy that carries Copaxone.