Glatopa (Glatiramer) - Injection

What Is Glatopa?

Glatopa (glatiramer acetate) is an injectable drug used to reduce the number of relapses or setbacks with multiple sclerosis (MS). It is a biologic (complex molecule) with a mixture of proteins.

Glatiramer is part of a drug class known as immunomodulators. It slows down the worsening of MS by reducing the actions of immune cells that cause nerve damage. It also increases the time between relapses.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Glatiramer acetate
Brand Name: Glatopa
Drug Availability: Prescription
Administration Route: Injection
Therapeutic Classification: Immunomodulator
Available Generically: No
Controlled Substance: No
Active Ingredient: Glatiramer acetate
Dosage Form(s): Solution

What Is Glatopa Used For?

Glatopa (glatiramer acetate) is a prescription drug used to reduce the number of relapses or set back with multiple sclerosis (MS).

How to Use Glatopa 

The following steps outline how to use Glatopa:

  1. Inject under the skin of your arms, hips, thighs, or stomach as directed by your healthcare provider.
  2. Wash your hands before and after use.
  3. Leave the syringe at room temperature for 20 minutes to warm up.
  4. Inspect the syringe. The liquid in the syringe should be clear and colorless. It may have a slight yellow tint to it. Do not use it if it is cloudy or has particles in it.
  5. Clean your injection site.
  6. Hold the syringe like a pencil.
  7. Remove the needle cover.
  8. Inject at a 90 degrees angle straight into your skin, slowly pushing down the plunger. 
  9. Once injected, pull the needle straight out.
  10. Discard the needle correctly in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared sharps disposal container. 
  11. Gently dab a dry, clean cotton ball on the injection site for a few seconds.

Glatiramer is available in 20 milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL) and 40 milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL) injections. These strengths are not interchangeable. If injected three times a week, space it apart by at least 48 hours.

Rotate injection sites. Do not use the needle in the same spot more than once weekly. 

Avoid getting live-attenuated vaccines if you are on this medicine or recently stopped using this injection, except if your healthcare provider tells you to.

Storage

Store Glatopa in the refrigerator and do not freeze. If it freezes, do not use it. Although refrigeration is preferred, you may store this drug at room temperature (68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 to 25 degrees Celsius) for up to 30 days. Do not store in the bathroom. Throw away any unused medicine after 30 days.

Store this drug away from heat and intense light. Keep Glatopa away from children and pets. 

Avoid pouring unused and expired drugs down the drain or in the toilet. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about the best ways to dispose of this medicine. Visit the FDA's website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired drugs. You can also find disposal boxes in your area. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the best ways to dispose of your medications.

If you travel with Glatopa, get familiar with your final destination's regulations. In general, be sure to make a copy of your Glatopa prescription. Keep your medication in its original container from your pharmacy with your name on the label. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about traveling with your medicine.

How Long Does Glatopa Take to Work?

Glatiramer begins to work quickly after your initial dose. Still, it may take six to nine months to assess its effectiveness in reducing MS relapses.

What Are the Side Effects of Glatopa?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Some people may have little to no side effects while on Glatopa. Call your healthcare provider if you have side effects that do not go away or become bothersome. Common side effects of glatiramer acetate include:

  • Back pain
  • Irritation where the shot is given
  • Upset stomach 
  • Throwing up
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Flushing or warmth
  • Rash

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider promptly if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or have a medical emergency. Serious side effects may include symptoms of infections, liver problems, or the following:

Long-Term Side Effects

Long-term use of Glatopa may cause liver problems and body fat deposit issues.

Liver problems: Hepatitis with jaundice or liver failure may happen days to years after starting this medicine. If you experience any symptoms of possible liver problems, let your healthcare provider know immediately. You may have to stop using this injection.

Fat deposit issues: A condition called lipoatrophy (losing fat in specific areas of the body) may happen. It may appear at the injection sites after a few months of use and may be permanent. Sometimes skin necrosis (skin death) may occur—lower this risk by rotating injection sites and practicing proper injection techniques.

Report Side Effects

Glatopa may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much of Glatopa Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For injection dosage form (solution):
    • For multiple sclerosis (MS):
      • Adults—20 milligrams (mg) injected under the skin once a day, or 40 mg injected under the skin 3 times per week (at least 48 hours apart).
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

The following modifications (changes) should be kept in mind when using Glatopa:

Severe allergic reaction: Avoid using Glatopa if you have a known allergy to it or its ingredients (e.g., mannitol). Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for a complete list of the ingredients if you're unsure.

Pregnancy: There is not enough data available about the safety and effectiveness of Glatopa in pregnant people and their unborn fetus. Discuss with your healthcare provider if you plan to become pregnant or are pregnant, and weigh the benefits and risks of taking Glatopa during your pregnancy.

Breastfeeding: There is not enough data available about the safety of Glatopa in human breast milk and nursing babies. Talk with your healthcare provider if you plan to breastfeed, to weigh the benefits and risks of taking Glatopa while nursing and the different ways available to feed your baby.

Adults over 65: Clinical studies haven't included a large enough number of people in this age group to see whether they respond differently from younger adults.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of Glatopa have not been established in children (people under 18 years).

Kidney problems: There is not enough data available about the effects of Glatopa in individuals with kidney problems. Speak with your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns about using Glatopa if you are experiencing kidney issues.

Missed Dose

Inject the missed dose once you think of it. If it is too close to your next dose, skip the missed dose. Go back to your regular dosing frequency. Do not inject extra or double the amount.

Overdose: What Happens If I Use Too Much Glatopa?

Overdose symptoms of Glatopa (glatiramer acetate) may include sweating, abnormal heartbeat, or confusion.

What Happens If I Overdose on Glatopa

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Glatopa, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Glatopa, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.

Some patients have a reaction to this medicine a few minutes after receiving a shot. The symptoms might include: chest pain, flushing, fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat, anxiety, trouble breathing, a tight feeling in the throat, or hives. These symptoms will usually go away without treatment in a short time. Call your doctor right away if these symptoms become worse or do not go away. This reaction can happen even if you have used the medicine regularly for several months. Also, chest pain can occur by itself, but should not last more than a few minutes.

This medicine may cause serious skin problems, including a permanent depression (dent) under the skin at the injection site. Contact your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects at the injection site: depressed or indented skin, blue-green to black skin discoloration, or pain, redness, or sloughing (peeling) of the skin.

Symptoms of your MS may return and become worse after stopping treatment with this medicine. Do not stop using this medicine without checking first with your doctor.

This medicine may increase your risk of developing infections. Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections while you are using this medicine. Wash your hands often.

Check with your doctor right away if you have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem (eg, liver failure, hepatitis with jaundice).

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn't Take Glatopa?

Avoid using it if you're allergic to Glatopa or any of its ingredients (e.g., mannitol). Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for a complete list of the ingredients if you're unsure.

What Other Medications Interact With Glatopa?

Interactions between Glatopa and other medications haven't been evaluated thoroughly.

Talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider for more detailed information about medication interactions with Glatopa.

And be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about any other medicines you take or plan to take, including over-the-counter (OTC), nonprescription products, vitamins, herbs, or plant-based medicines.

What Medications Are Similar?

Some medications used to manage symptoms of MS, like glatiramer acetate, include:

This list is a list of drugs also prescribed for multiple sclerosis. It is NOT a list of medicines recommended to take with Glatopa. You should not take these drugs together. Ask your pharmacist or a healthcare provider if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Glatopa used to treat?

    Glatopa (glatiramer acetate) manages multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms. It reduces the number of setbacks or relapses in people with MS.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Glatopa?

    Inject your missed dose once you think of it. If it's too close to the next dose, skip the missed dose. Return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not inject extra doses or double the amount.

  • Can I store Glatopa at room temperature?

    Although refrigeration is preferred, you may store Glatopa at room temperature for up to 30 days.

  • How long does it take for Glatopa to work?

    Glatiramer starts to work upon injection. However, it may take six to nine months to assess how well it reduces MS relapses.

  • What are the common side effects of Glatopa?

    Some common side effects of glatiramer acetate include:

    • Upset stomach 
    • Back pain
    • Throwing up
    • Feeling tired or weak
    • Irritation where the shot is given

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Glatopa?

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) has its challenges. Therefore, learning to cope with MS and regularly taking medicine may help you avoid its relapse.

Let your healthcare provider know if your MS symptoms often appear or get worse. For more resources and support, check out the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. DailyMed. Glatopa label.

  2. DailyMed. Glatiramer acetate injection label.

By Queen Buyalos, PharmD
Queen Buyalos is a pharmacist and freelance medical writer. She takes pride in advocating for cancer prevention, overall health, and mental health education. Queen enjoys counseling and educating patients about drug therapy and translating complex ideas into simple language.