Avonex vs. Copaxone

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(Interferon Beta-1A)


Lowers the frequency of multiple sclerosis exacerbations. Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is an injectable medicine effective for relapsing, remitting MS and has manageable side effects and weekly dosing.Lowers the frequency of multiple sclerosis exacerbations. Copaxone (Glatiramer) is an injectable medicine that's effective for relapsing, remitting MS. It has fewer side effects than other meds, but the self-injections are needed frequently.
How it works
Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is an interferon that acts like the ones your body naturally makes. Researchers don't know exactly how it works, but interferons activate your immune system to control immune responses that have gotten out of control.Copaxone (Glatiramer) is an immune modulator that alters the immune process. Researchers don't know exactly how it works. It's thought to "trick" out-of-control immune cells and slow their attacks on nerves.
Type of medication
Multiple sclerosis treatment
Prescription only
Multiple sclerosis treatment
Prescription only
Available as
  • Injection
  • Injection
Used for (click to learn more)
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
Reviews for Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
of people say Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is worth it
say it works well
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Copaxone (Glatiramer)
+14% vs. Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
+13% vs. Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
+6% vs. Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
Side effects
  • Flu-like symptoms 20%
  • Chills 14%
  • Fever 11%
  • Muscle pain 7%
  • Muscle weakness 6%
  • Nausea 4%
  • Injuction site inflammation 4%
  • Low mood disorder 4%
  • Infection 3%
  • Chest pain 3%
More Avonex side effects »
  • Injection site erythema 33%
  • Infection 27%
  • Injection site pruritus 23%
  • Injection site pain 20%
  • Injection site mass 20%
  • Widening of blood vessels 15%
  • Injection site edema 15%
  • Nausea 14%
  • Shortness of breath 10%
  • Injection site inflammation 8%
More Copaxone side effects »
Risk factors for serious side effects
  • History of depression or mental illness
  • Allergy to albumin
  • Prolonged use of Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
  • Alcohol use
  • Taking drugs that are liver toxic
  • History of liver disease
    • History of heart disease
        • History of seizures
        • Women of childbearing age
          Detailed Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) risks & warnings »
                    Detailed Copaxone (Glatiramer) risks & warnings »
                    Pregnancy category
                    CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

                    Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

                    See the FDA package insert
                    BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

                    Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

                    See the FDA package insert
                    No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
                    No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
                    Kidneys and liver
                    No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
                    No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
                    No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
                    • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can cause serious liver injury with the risk increasing during the first 6 months after you start. You'll need to have your liver enzymes tested at 1, 3, and 6 months. If liver enzymes are significantly elevated and you have appetite/weight loss, stomach discomfort, vomiting, and notice dark urine, yellowing of skin/eyes, change in stool color, and skin rash, you should stop taking Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) until your doctor decides if it's safe to re-start.
                    No specific weight-related info.
                    Upsides and benefits
                    • One of the main treatments for relapsing MS that has been around for many years.
                    • Injections are given weekly, and not daily like other MS medications.
                    • Flu-like reactions are the most common side effects and usually go away with continued treatment or can be avoided by using over-the-counter pain and fever-reducing medicines before the injection (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen).
                    • Helps reduce the frequency of MS relapse episodes.
                    • One of the main treatments for relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) that has been around for many years.
                    • Fewer side effects than other injectable MS medicines, like interferons.
                    • Can be helpful in maintaining nerve functions.
                    • Likely safe to use during pregnancy.
                    • Copaxone (Glatiramer) is a possible treatment for primary-progressive MS (PPMS) even though the clinical evidence is not conclusive (there are currently no approved treatments for PPMS).
                    • Helps reduce the frequency of MS relapse episodes.
                    Downsides and risks
                    • Injection site reactions are common, ranging from localized pain, redness, and swelling to severe skin dryness.
                    • Flu-like symptoms are common after interferon injections.
                    • It's not clear what type of problems occur if taken during pregnancy.
                    • Blood testing is required before and during use of Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A).
                    • May not be as effective as other interferons.
                    • Requires injections, either day or every other day (but no more than three times a week), depending on the dose you're taking.
                    • Injection site reactions are common with pain, redness, swelling, and lipoatrophy (loss of fat under the skin where the injection is made).
                    • Doesn't stop the progression of MS.
                    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
                    • Inject yourself once a week in your muscle (you need to go deeper than the fat layer between your skin and muscle).
                    • Refrigerate the powder and pre-filled syringes and pens.
                    • Don't shake the medicine once it is taken out of the refrigerator or mixed.
                    • If using the pre-filled syringes, the tiny air bubbles won't hurt you.
                    • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can cause flu-like symptoms (headache, fever, muscle pain) right after injections, lasting minutes or hours.
                    • Flu-like reactions usually go away with repeated treatments. Taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen 45 minutes before the injection can reduce the uncomfortable feeling.
                    • Inject yourself at the same time every day into your subcutaneous fat (the layer between your skin and muscle).
                    • Injection site reactions are common. Symptoms include swelling, redness, and pain.
                    • Rarely, can cause a fast and irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, or flushing that usually goes away after 10-15 minutes.
                    • You can keep syringes at room temperature for up to a month if you can't store them in the refrigerator.
                    Learn more
                    More about AvonexSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
                    More about CopaxoneSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert