Making Sense of MS Research

Summaries of independent,
high-quality research about multiple sclerosis treatments

Copaxone® for all types of MS

Detailed answer

For people with RRMS

Relapses

For people with RRMS, taking Copaxone® may slightly decrease the chance of having a relapse over two years.

In words

  • Without Copaxone®, 73 per 100 people would have one or more relapses over two years and 27 would not
  • With Copaxone®, 63 per 100 people would have one or more relapses over two years and 37 would not
  • Therefore with Copaxone®, 10 fewer people per 100 would have one or more relapses over two years compared to without Copaxone®

In pictures

Without Copaxone®, 73 per 100 people with MS are estimated to one or more relapses
Graph showing 73 per 100 people with MS are estimated to one or more relapses.
1 100 Graph showing 63 per 100 people with MS are estimated to one or more relapses.
With Copaxone®, 63 per 100 people with MS are estimated to one or more relapses

In technical terms, the result was just statistically significant, the confidence intervals touched 1 and the upper boundary was high. This means there is still some statistical uncertainty about the effect.

Do these results look different from what you’ve read elsewhere? See the FAQ page for an explanation. You can also discuss the results with your local MS Australia office.

Disability

For people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), we are uncertain about the effect of taking Copaxone® for two years on the chance of disability getting worse.

In words

  • Without Copaxone® 28 per 100 people would experience worsening disability over two years and 72 would not
  • With Copaxone® 21 per 100 people would experience worsening disability over two years and 79 would not
  • Therefore with Copaxone® 7 fewer people per 100 would experience worsening disability over two years compared to without Copaxone®

In pictures

Without Copaxone®, 28 per 100 people with MS are estimated to have worsening disability
Graph showing 28 per 100 people with MS are estimated to have worsening disability.
1 100 Graph showing 21 per 100 people with MS are estimated to have worsening disability.
With Copaxone®, 21 per 100 people with MS are estimated to have worsening disability

In technical terms, the result was not statistically significant, the confidence intervals crossed 1 and the boundaries were wide. This means there is statistical uncertainty about the effect and it could have occurred by chance alone.

Do these results look different from what you’ve read elsewhere? See the FAQ page for an explanation. You can also discuss the results with your local MS Australia office.

For people with SPMS/PPMS

Disability

For people with secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and primary progressive MS (PPMS) we are uncertain about the effect of taking Copaxone® on the chance of disability getting worse over two years.

In words

  • Without Copaxone® 33 per 100 people would experience worsening disability over two years and 67 would not
  • With Copaxone® 29 per 100 people would experience worsening disability over two years and 71 would not
  • Therefore with Copaxone® 4 fewer people per 100 would experience worsening disability over two years compared to without Copaxone®

In pictures

Without Copaxone®, 33 per 100 people with MS are estimated to experience worsening disability
Graph showing 33 per 100 people with MS are estimated to have worsening disability.
1 100 Graph showing 29 per 100 people with MS are estimated to have worsening disability.
With Copaxone®, 29 per 100 people with MS are estimated to experience worsening disability

In technical terms, the result was not statistically significant, the confidence intervals crossed 1 and the boundaries were moderately wide. This means there is statistical uncertainty about the effect and it could have occurred by chance alone.

Do these results look different from what you’ve read elsewhere? See the FAQ page for an explanation. You can also discuss the results with your local MS Australia office.

Side effects

Copaxone® was not associated with any serious side effects.

People who took Copaxone® were more likely to experience the following side effects

  • Immediately after injecting, people with Copaxone® reported feeling a combination of feeling flushed, chest tightness, sweating, heart palpitations and anxiety. This went away within 30 minutes.

Other side effects that people who took Copaxone® were more likely to experience

  • heart palpitations
  • shortness of breath
  • injection site reactions (including itching, swelling, redness, and pain)

Taking Copaxone® was not associated with an increased risk of

  • headache
  • anxiety (beyond the short term effect that may be experienced after injecting)
  • feeling lightheaded
  • drowsiness
  • cramps
  • joint pain
  • appetite loss
  • constipation
  • abdominal discomfort
  • nausea and vomiting

What we don’t know from the results of this review

The research is unclear about the effect of Copaxone® on the chance of disability getting worse. Because the studies in this review only went for up to three years we don’t know the effect of Copaxone® on MS in the longer term.

What about the quality of the included studies?

Overall, the quality of these results is low. The studies were randomised controlled trials (RCTs), which are considered the most rigorous study design that minimises the risk of misleading results. However, the RCTs had a number of flaws in them. As such, the effects of Copaxone® on the chance of disability getting worse are uncertain.

The really detailed answer

For more information, or to read about the individual studies included in this review, you can access the Cochrane review on which this treatment summary is based: