The Injection Wars:Rebif vs. Copaxone

2 10 2009

(There are four first line drugs recommended to MS patients.  Three, including Rebif, are interferons, and one, Copaxone, is not.  All are given by injections.  Rebif happens three times a week; Copaxone, daily.)

SyringeI didn’t make a note of the day I went off Rebif and on Copaxone.  It didn’t seem like the sort of occasion I would want to celebrate in the future.  But I know that sometime within the past month I passed the one year anniversary of my life with Copaxone.

A year ago I was pretty grouchy.  I had really liked the Rebif.  Frequently the shots hurt like heck going in, but as soon as they were in it was all over.  No red spots, no lumps, no flu like symptoms, and if I was having a few “break through symptoms,” who could say it was because the Rebif wasn’t working?  Maybe that was the best we could hope for.  The three times a week shot regimen?  I’d rather not do it at all, but it was a lot better than seven times a week.  Perhaps most importantly, in my head I believed that nothing out there was better than Rebif.

The neurologist was patient.  He let me take the neutralizing antibodies test twice, four months apart.  But the numbers didn’t get any better.  I scoured the internet looking for studies that challenged the link between neutralizing antibodies and ineffectiveness of the medicine.  I found scads of information convinced there was a correlation, and maybe two that questioned the link, but they didn’t deny it.

So last September he lowered the boom.  I was a Copaxone girl.

A year later, I think I owe Copaxone an apology.

I still get the occasional “jelly legs” when I’ve been sitting around too long.  It’s a bit less now than when I was on the Rebif  (but with a disease as fluid as MS how can anyone say assuredly that the difference is in the injections?)

I’m no fan of the daily shots.  They hurt less going in, but about fifteen seconds afterwards…YOW!  Though as I think about it, the stinging sensation has lessened over the twelve months, hasn’t it, Self?  The red spots, bruises, bumps and lumps have brought an end to my modeling career (chuckle, chuckle), but it wasn’t going anywhere anyway.  I cringe when I think I’ve found a dent in my skin, and look frantically for virgin real estate.

But my world didn’t collapse.  I’m still chugging along through each day.  And I’ve come to wonder if the lack of reaction I had to the Rebif indicated that the medicine was neutralized right off the bat, and hence not doing any good.  A no pain, no gain sort of thing.

So I’m resolved to stick with the Copaxone for now.  But still thinking how nice some oral medication would be…..

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4 responses

26 03 2010
tessharmony

I am actually considering going off Rebif myself. I got diagnosed almost a year ago and have been taking the shots but my after affects keep changing and getting worse, so my doctor said maybe I should switch to Copazone and of course at 17, the thought of a shot a day sounds horrible!!! But this has really inspired me, so thank you!

26 03 2010
mindsprints

I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this at 17! Someone once told me they picked Copaxone because when you have to do something everyday, it becomes less of an event and just part of the routine. It sounded a little wacky to me, but in retrospect, they have a point. Good luck to you, whatever you do!

9 04 2012
Courtney

So, how are you today? And, are you still on Copaxone? I have just been diagnosed and am deciding between Rebif and Copaxone.

11 04 2012
mindsprints

I’m still on Copaxone and I’m doing well. All things being equal, I suppose I’d pick Rebif because it’s three times a week but there’s no question that the deciding factor should be to use what works best (which may require trial and error). And my experience has been that the shots hurt less over time; not just a couple days but many months. Also, there’s an argument that if you have to do the shots everyday, it becomes more of a routine thing rather than something you anticipate with great trepidation and then rejoice once it’s done. Sort of a Rebif roller coaster. Anyway, whatever you pick, don’t sweat it. See how it goes and take it from there. Good luck!

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