At this time, it is not fully understood how glatiramer works to treat multiple sclerosis. Although the exact causes of MS are not known, it is often considered to be an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the protective coating around nerve fibers. It is thought that glatiramer may work by limiting this immune system response, decreasing the damage to the nerves.
Because the drug is a delicate molecule, it would be broken down and destroyed by the digestive system if taken by mouth. For this reason, glatiramer must be injected to bypass the digestive tract.
Effects of Glatiramer
Several studies have evaluated glatiramer as an MS treatment. In one study, people who took the drug had fewer MS exacerbations, compared to people taking a placebo injection with no active ingredient. MRI brain scans showed that people had significantly fewer lesions after two years of taking glatiramer, compared with those who took the placebo.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
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Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: Approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed December 7, 2007.
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