With the recent approval of Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) for both primary progressive and relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), interest in the medication is peaking. To help readers of Multiple Sclerosis News Today better understand this new medication and how it works, as well issues dealing with access, use, and potential side effects, here is a summary of the most relevant information now available about Ocrevus.
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Ocrevus is a prescription medication, so people considering the treatment should discuss with their physicians whether it may be suitable for them.
Genentech — Ocrevus’ developer — is working to make sure that patients receive adequate information about the therapy. The company has set up a website — www.ocrevus.com — with detailed information. Patients can also call 1-844-627-3887 (Ocrevus Connects, Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 8 pm ET) with questions concerning this therapy.
The drug is an antibody that acts by depleting a certain immune B-cell — those B-cells carrying a molecule called CD20 on their surfaces, and thought to be involved in the processes that cause brain damage in MS.
Antibodies are proteins, and as such they cannot be administered like a pill. Just like proteins in food, antibodies would be chopped up by the digestive system, and do little good as disease treatment. Ocrevus needs to be administered as an intravenous infusion at a clinic.
Access and pricing
When Ocrevus was approved by the FDA on March 28, Genentech announced it would be available across the U.S. within two weeks (meaning, early April). The list price for one year of treatment, which consists of two annual infusions, is $65,000. At this time, Multiple Sclerosis News Today has no information about how the drug will be reimbursed.
Genentech is trying to make sure that all eligible patients can access the treatment. The company’s Access Solutions program is designed to help patients who are prescribed Ocrevus navigate the access and reimbursement process.
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