Proper storage of your medications is essential to ensure their safety, potency, and effectiveness. This is especially true for Copaxone (glatiramer acetate), a widely prescribed drug for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Copaxone is a temperature-sensitive medication that needs to be refrigerated and can only stay at room temperature for a limited time. Whether you're a healthcare provider, caregiver, or Copaxone user yourself, understanding the guidelines for its storage is key to maintaining its therapeutic properties and ensuring optimal results for the patients. Now, let's dive into the topic!
What is Copaxone?
Copaxone is a brand name for glatiramer acetate, a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis. Copaxone is specifically indicated for relapsing forms of MS, including relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), clinically isolated syndrome, and active secondary progressive MS (SPMS), as opposed to primary progressive MS.
Like Avonex or Kesimpta, Copaxone is an injectable medication. It is administered through subcutaneous injections (under the skin).
It is available in different dosages. Copaxone 20 mg / mL is usually administered daily, while Copaxone 40 mg / mL is given three times a week. However, the dosage and frequency of Copaxone injections are based on individual needs and may vary for each person.
The MS injection is available in single-dose, prefilled syringes. But patients who are uncomfortable using syringes and needles may get the Autoject 2 injection device for glass syringes.
Copaxone is also available as a generic brand called Glatopa. It contains the same active ingredient: glatiramer acetate.
How does Copaxone work?
Glatiramer acetate, the active drug in Copaxone and Glatopa, works by modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation in the brain and spinal cord.
It mimics myelin basic protein, a component of the protective cover of nerve fibers in the central nervous system. By doing so, it helps suppress the abnormal immune response that targets and damages myelin, leading to the symptoms of MS.
Copaxone has been shown to help manage the symptoms of MS and reduce the frequency of relapses. However, it’s important to understand that it is not a cure for multiple sclerosis.
Currently, there's no cure for MS. Treatment and management of the disease often involve a multidisciplinary approach, including other medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
If you or someone you know is considering using Copaxone injections for multiple sclerosis, consult with your doctor for a proper evaluation and guidance. Copaxone is delivered with a medical prescription only. It can cause serious side effects, and its use must be supervised by professional healthcare providers. Never use Copaxone without your doctor's approval.
Related article: How to Use & Store Your Avonex Pens at Home and Traveling
How to Store Copaxone: Temperatures!
If you’ve recently been prescribed Copaxone injections for multiple sclerosis, you’ve probably been warned about its specific storage requirements. Indeed, like most injectable drugs, including insulin, Ozempic, Mounjaro, and many others, the active drug in Copaxone, is a biologic that must be refrigerated to stay effective.
Does Copaxone need to be refrigerated?
Yes, Copaxone needs to be refrigerated. According to Teva Neuroscience, Inc., the manufacturer of Copaxone, the MS injection must be stored in the refrigerator between 36°F and 46°F (2°C-8°C) until it’s ready for use.
Patients can remove the prefilled syringe from the refrigerator and allow it to reach room temperature for approximately 15-30 minutes before administering the injection. This can help minimize pain and discomfort associated with the injection.
How long can it stay unrefrigerated?
When refrigeration is not possible, Copaxone can be stored at room temperature up to 86°F (30°C) for a single period of up to one month.
During that time, it’s very important to make sure your Copaxone syringes are never exposed to high temperatures above 86°F (30°C), even briefly. As mentioned above, the active drug is very sensitive to temperatures and can quickly spoil.
In any case, after 30 days at room temperature, any unused medication should be discarded. Never use a Copaxone syringe that’s been out of the fridge for more than 30 days. Its effectiveness and safety aren’t guaranteed anymore.
Additionally, the manufacturer warns users about freezing temperatures. When frozen, even temporarily, Copaxone may lose its effectiveness. So, never use Copaxone that has frozen, even if it has thawed afterward.
Traveling with Copaxone
Traveling with Multiple Sclerosis is challenging. Besides the stress of never knowing when the symptoms will strike, it requires quite a lot of preplanning and emergency preparedness. And on top of that, you must worry about keeping your Copaxone syringes cool!
There are really two situations in which you must pay special attention to storage temperatures when traveling with Copaxone:
- When living in or traveling to places where the outside temperature gets higher than 86°F (30°C). You need a cooler to keep your injections cool below that threshold, whatever the duration of your trip, be it 2 hours or 2 weeks.
- When traveling for more than 30 days. You need a portable refrigerator that keeps your Copaxone refrigerated, whatever the outside temperature is.
But don't worry; we've got you covered! Meet 4AllFamily's medical-grade portable fridges.
Related article: How to Find Travel Insurance for Preexisting Medical Conditions?
4AllFamily’s Travel Coolers for Refrigerated Drugs
4AllFamily designs travel coolers for people whose life and comfort depend on refrigerated medications like Copaxone.
Our products range from pocket-size thermos-like cooling bottles to high-performing travel refrigerators.
Depending on your lifestyle and the kind of travel you're planning, you can choose from a wide range of portable cooling solutions.
For example, our new innovative Pioneer Travel Refrigerator is an excellent solution for storing your Copaxone syringes while on the go. It maintains a temperature range of 36°F - 46°F (2°C - 8°C), ensuring the optimal storage conditions required for Copaxone. Even in high temperatures of up to 104°F (40°C), the Pioneer keeps your injections refrigerated for up to 10-12 hours using its battery (with the possibility to add extra batteries for extended trips!).
Alternatively, when you can access electricity (car cigarette lighter, portable solar panel, power bank, or household power), the Pioneer becomes an actual fridge with no time limit. This means you can keep your MS injections cool not only during outdoor activities such as camping and road trips, but also while enjoying the comfort of a hotel spa room or any other indoor setting.
With its large capacity, the Voyager is another popular option for people traveling with Copaxone syringes. It works with 3 different cooling methods to accommodate any travel situation, from the most luxurious to the most adventurous:
- USB power + freeze packs cooling method: it keeps fridge temperature for up to 50 hours when it’s 104°F (40°C).
- Freeze packs only method (no electricity): your Copaxone syringes will be safe and refrigerated for 28 hours!
- USB power only (no freeze packs): the travel fridge maintains constant fridge temperature when the outside temperature is no higher than 95°F / 35°C!
And if you’re only traveling for a few days and only need to protect your Copaxone injections from high summer heat (not refrigerated!), our Companion Soft Medical Cooling Bag is perfect for you!
All our travel coolers are TSA-approved for airplane travel so that you can board the plane with your injections refrigerated in your carry-on bags.
Here’s our full catalog with many more cooler choices! We're here to help. Should you have any doubts or inquiries about our products, please leave a comment below or contact us.
Related article: How to Travel With Refrigerated Medications?
Copaxone vs. Avonex vs. Kesimpta vs. Betaseron
Copaxone is only one of many treatment options for multiple sclerosis. It is often compared to other injectable MS drugs, like Avonex, Kesimpta, and Betaseron.
However, these injections differ in their actions, active ingredients, administration methods, dosage, and side effects.
- Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) is administered via subcutaneous injections. It is indicated for relapsing forms of MS and works by modulating the immune system to reduce inflammation and protect myelin. It is usually taken once daily or three times per week, depending on the prescribed regimen.
- Avonex (interferon beta-1a) is given through intramuscular injections. Like Copaxone, it is indicated for relapsing forms of MS. Avonex is usually administered once a week. It helps reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system to prevent further damage to the central nervous system.
- Kesimpta (ofatumumab) is a newer medication approved for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS, including relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). It is administered through subcutaneous injections but only taken once monthly after an initial titration period. Kesimpta is a CD20-directed cytolytic antibody that depletes certain B cells involved in the immune response in MS.
- Betaseron (interferon beta-1b) is another type of interferon beta medication, similar to Avonex. It is given via subcutaneous injections every other day and is indicated for relapsing forms of MS.
Would you like to share your experience with us? Are you using Copaxone? Have you ever traveled with your injections?