Ocrevus: FDA Approval Triggers Hope, Optimism — and Concern — Among MS Patients

Ocrevus: FDA Approval Triggers Hope, Optimism — and Concern — Among MS Patients

Patiently Awakened

The past few days have been remarkable in the multiple sclerosis (MS) community, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approving Ocrevus to treat relapsing MS (RRMS) and primary progressive MS (PPMS) in the United States. Ocrevus — adminstered intravenously every six months — is the first drug in history to win FDA approval to treat both forms of MS.

“This is a real game changer,” says Cindy Zagieboylo, president and CEO of the National MS Society.

I have read many articles, columns and opinions regarding the FDA’s approval of Ocrevus. Many people are joyous and optimistic about the drug and what it could mean for those living with MS, while others are skeptical of the newly approved treatment. The FDA warns of several potential side effects that can occur while taking this medication such as infusion reactions, infections and an increased risk of malignancy; these side effects frighten a significant number of people.

Regarding my own feelings about the drug, I currently have RRMS and it appears to be stable for now. As of my last MRI, there has been no signs of disease progression. However, we know the course of MS is unknown and that anything can change at any time. Our disease is multifaceted and it affects each of us differently. There is no “one size fits all” component. The same is true for the treatment of MS.

Personally, I feel optimistic about Ocrevus and the future of MS. Science, technology and research are paramount in treating any disease. Each time a new drug is approved, it offers hope of a better quality of life. With each discovery, I am hopeful that one day we will see a cure for MS. As I reflect on my life, I think about the benefits of medical advancements, technology and medications in heart health that have afforded me and many others longevity and a better quality of life.

Regarding side effects, I, too, have concerns about Ocrevus. It is important to know the risks and benefits of any medications we take in order to make informed decisions. However, most existing MS therapies have troubling side effects to. I have and continue to experience some of them. I try to focus my energy on the benefits of taking the medication instead of worrying about all the things that can happen. I hope the medication will slow down the progression of my MS; for me, the possibilities of treatment exceed the fear.

In December 2016, I wrote a column titled HOPE – Having Obedience to Persevere and Endure. That message rings true again. I have said this before, and I will continue to say that where there is life, there is hope. Hope strengthens us to hold on. Hope allows us to believe in the future. March 28, 2017, was a day many of us with MS have hoped and waited for. Ocrevus will change the lives of a multitude of people, and I believe, will restore hope to those who may have lost theirs. Hope reminds me that nothing is impossible.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” (Helen Keller)

***

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Teresa I. Wright-Johnson is a married Multiple Sclerosis Warrior and Congenital Heart Disease Survivor. She was born with a heart murmur and an Aortic Valve Defect. Teresa has endured multiple open heart surgeries and cardiac procedures. She was diagnosed with MS in November of 2014 and is under the care of an esteemed MS Specialist. Teresa knows there is a calling on her life and she fully embraces that. Teresa uses her illnesses as opportunities to further rely on her faith, walk in her truth, raise awareness and educate others. She believes that she is purposely on purpose. Teresa offers a solid background in Criminal Justice and Social Services. A graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and a retired Sr. Parole Officer for the State of New Jersey, Teresa uses her life to empower and inspire others. She embodies community service, is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc and is active with several other organizations. Teresa aspires to be a light that shines in dark places. Teresa is an author, poet, inspirational speaker and a community activist. She enjoys writing, reading, listening to music and spending time with her family and friends. Teresa acknowledges the unwavering love of her wonderful parents throughout her life and her supportive and loving husband Marvin who is beside her through every trial and triumph.
×
Teresa I. Wright-Johnson is a married Multiple Sclerosis Warrior and Congenital Heart Disease Survivor. She was born with a heart murmur and an Aortic Valve Defect. Teresa has endured multiple open heart surgeries and cardiac procedures. She was diagnosed with MS in November of 2014 and is under the care of an esteemed MS Specialist. Teresa knows there is a calling on her life and she fully embraces that. Teresa uses her illnesses as opportunities to further rely on her faith, walk in her truth, raise awareness and educate others. She believes that she is purposely on purpose. Teresa offers a solid background in Criminal Justice and Social Services. A graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and a retired Sr. Parole Officer for the State of New Jersey, Teresa uses her life to empower and inspire others. She embodies community service, is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc and is active with several other organizations. Teresa aspires to be a light that shines in dark places. Teresa is an author, poet, inspirational speaker and a community activist. She enjoys writing, reading, listening to music and spending time with her family and friends. Teresa acknowledges the unwavering love of her wonderful parents throughout her life and her supportive and loving husband Marvin who is beside her through every trial and triumph.

5 comments

  1. Frank Zbacnik says:

    As my wife’s (diagnosed in 2008 and now with PPMS) caregiver I too am skeptical after she tried several drug therapies with intolerant side affects. However, since this is the first PPMS therapy we are willing to take another chance that the side affects will be more tolerant. Because she is also a disabled veteran she will be able and fortunate, to hopefully obtain Ocrevus through the VA formulary soon. Yes, let’s all HOPE!

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Frank,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and caregiver experience. Best wishes to your wife on this journey. I hope that she will have fruitful results with therapy. We must continue to hope. Blessings to you.

  2. Evgenia Lazova says:

    Thank you for the information ! Ocrevus given us hope . I can not wait to speak with my Doctor about it . Thanks !

  3. Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

    Evhenia,
    Thank you for your response and continue to hope. The best of luck to you on this journey.

  4. Frank Zbacnik says:

    After two years now and two procedures with Ocrevus I am sad to report the drug was a failure for my PPMS wife. The side effects were once again intolerable. Severe rash and itching for six months and now tremors in her right hand. No noticeable improvement in her progression. I truly hope there are stories out there with happier endings. Now we have decided not to try any new therapies until after we are convinced the actual results will have less side effects and a higher percentage of success for PPMS patients. There is still HOPE.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This