Compare Copaxone vs. Avonex

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Copaxone
(glatiramer)

Avonex
(interferon beta-1a)

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.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.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4.23Copaxone
Reviews for Copaxone
50%
of people (All ages) say Copaxone is worth it
37%
say it works well
27%
say it's a big hassle
Have you used Copaxone (glatiramer)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Avonex
36%
+14% better vs. Copaxone
24%
+13% better vs. Copaxone
33%
+6% better vs. Copaxone
Have you used Avonex (interferon beta-1a)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
CopaxoneAvonex
  • Injection Site Erythema 33%
  • Injection Site Pain 20%
  • Infection 28%
  • Injection Site Pruritus 23%
  • Injection Site Mass 20%
  • Asthenia 1%
  • Pain 3%
  • Vasodilation 15%
  • Rash 8%
  • Injection Site Edema 15%
More Copaxone side effects »
  • Headache 2%
  • Flu-like symptoms 21%
  • Myalgia 6%
  • Asthenia 6%
  • Pain 2%
  • Nausea 4%
  • Fever 11%
  • Chills 14%
  • Depression 4%
  • Urinary tract infection 2%
More Avonex side effects »
How it works
CopaxoneAvonex
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.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.
Type of medication
CopaxoneAvonex
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
CopaxoneAvonex
  • Injection
  • Injection
Used for
CopaxoneAvonex
Risk factors for serious side effects
CopaxoneAvonex
    Detailed Copaxone (glatiramer) risks & warnings »
    • History of depression or mental illness
    • Allergy to albumin
    • Prolonged use of Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
    • Alcohol use
    • Taking drugs that are liver toxic
    Detailed Avonex (interferon beta-1a) risks & warnings »
    Pregnancy

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

    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.

    Price
    CopaxoneAvonex
    No price related info.
    • 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).
    Interactions
    CopaxoneAvonex
    No interactions related info.
    • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. Watch for new or worsening depression or any unusual changes in mood or behavior, especially during the first few months of treatment or when the dose changes. Tell your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.
    • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) has been reported to cause hypersensitivity reactions (severe rash, trouble breathing) and angioedema (life-threatening condition with swelling with or without hives). Get emergency care right away.
    • 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.
    • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is not thought to cause adverse effects on the heart, but a small number of people with no history of heart problems developed heart failure and heart muscle weakness. Your doctor should watch you carefully especially when you start Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) then as long as you continue to take it.
    • Because Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) vial contains albumin, made from human blood, there’s an extremely low risk of transmitting a fatal brain disorder called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) or other viral disease. People who have allergies to albumin shouldn't use the vial formulation of Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A). The prefilled syringe doesn't contain albumin and may be a better choice for albumin-sensitive people. Make sure you talk to your doctor first.
    • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) hasn’t been studied in pregnant women, so the effects on your unborn baby are unknown. If you take it during pregnancy or breastfeed, it’s possible that some medicine may get into your baby’s blood. Talk to your doctor first and if you get pregnant while taking Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A), you'll need to enroll in the Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) pregnancy registry.
    • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can affect the bone marrow and lower your red and white blood cells and platelets to very low levels. When your blood cells and platelets levels drop too low, you are at more risk for infections, bleeding and bruising and will have to stop taking Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) until levels correct. You'll have to get your blood tested regularly at least every 6 months.
    • Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can cause flu-like symptoms (headache, fever, muscle pain) right after injections, lasting minutes or hours.
    Pain
    CopaxoneAvonex
    • Injection site reactions are common with pain, redness, swelling, and lipoatrophy (loss of fat under the skin where the injection is made).
    • Injection site reactions can be severe and include pain, redness, swelling, infection, and rarely, tissue death. In some cases, these reactions happened more than 2 years after starting Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A). They usually get better, but may need antibiotics or in severe cases, surgical treatment. It’s important that you follow instructions carefully and learn how to inject Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) correctly.
    • Injection site reactions are common, ranging from localized pain, redness, and swelling to severe skin dryness.
    Upsides and benefits
    CopaxoneAvonex
    • One of the main treatments for relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) that has been around for many years.
    • Helps reduce the frequency of MS relapse episodes.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • Helps reduce the frequency of MS relapse episodes.
    • 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).
    Downsides and risks
    CopaxoneAvonex
    • 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.
    • 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.
    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
    CopaxoneAvonex
    • 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.
    • 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.
    Learn more
    More about CopaxoneSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    Have you used Copaxone (glatiramer)?
    Worth itNot sureNot worth it
    More about AvonexSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    Have you used Avonex (interferon beta-1a)?
    Worth itNot sureNot worth it