5 Things to Know About the New MS Drug Ocrevus

BREAKING NEWS: FDA Approves Ocrevus as 1st MS Treatment for Both Relapsing and Primary Progressive Forms

The multiple sclerosis community has been waiting with bated breath for the approval of the drug Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), which will be used to treat patients who have relapsing MS and primary progressive MS. The FDA’s decision of final approval is expected on March 28, which coincides with Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. In preparation for the announcement, we’ve put together a list of must-know facts about the drug.

Ocrevus will be used for treating primary progressive MS. 

In clinical trials, Ocrevus was found to slow the progress of disability in primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), which accounts for approximately 10 percent of MS patients.

Ocrevus will also be used for treating relapsing MS patients. 

Ocrevus was found to slow disease activity in more patients taking the drug compared to those who were taking Rebif.

Ocrevus targets myelin-attacking B-cells. 

Ocrevus is an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody which works by targeting the mature B-cells which contribute to demyelination and damage to nerve cells. Most MS medications currently available work by targeting T-cells. This is one of the only medications that attacks these specific B-cells.

RELATED: Our columnist Ian Franks gives his views on the impending approval of Ocrevus.

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55 comments

  1. Susan Mark says:

    Ms. Susan Mark is now on Dialysis for high Creatinine Levels in Blood testing. Can she be a possible candidate for Ocrevus treatment – kindly let me know – I am her Medical Power of Attorney; She used to attend many Lectures/Dinners for MS, how ever is now bed bound.
    Please give your insight to her use and possibilities for improvements. She has many hopeful expations

    • Dianne Roncal, DMD says:

      We are so sorry to hear that. However, We strongly encourage you to contact her doctor to see if she is eligible for it. We’re sending positive vibes her way. <3

    • Jayce says:

      Has this poor woman been tested for tic borne illnesses? There are so many of them that do crazy things to your body and I think anyone with a so called “autoimmune” disease should be tested! Not just for Lyme but for all possible tic related infections a lab in CA called IgeneX is really good they mail you the kit.

  2. F. Essman says:

    I believe the clinical trial protocol was for age 55 and under. For patients over 55, especially late 60’s and 70 could this be a good fit? I was anxiously awaiting approval, but have not found data for my age group, 72. I have heard many neurologists feel as one ages, often the disease slows down or appears unchanged.
    Are there any thoughts that risk vs benefit might mean older patients should not try this?

    • Sue says:

      I am wondering that too, same age group, take other medication for other conditions, how will they all work together, unfortunately at my age I appear to have become invisible.

        • Masood says:

          Dear Linda,
          Can you let me know the condition of your husband after receiving Ocrevus treatment, I want to know because my wife is suffering from RRMS. I am also considering to go for that treatment
          Regards
          Masood

          Regards

      • Jessica says:

        that’s what i have and my doctor told me anout this drug suggests that I get an MRI to compare to my last one 2 years ago and then we’ll go on from their (YEAH finaly a drug to treat spms)

    • KAY K says:

      I am 76 and still getting worse. I still drive, have lift for my scooter, ramp and accessible housing,supportive husband that does everything I have trouble with and would like to keep that amount of independence. Two recent head gashing falls after a good healing from a broken leg a year ago are creating big worries that make me thankful that just in time there is a solution for me. I have never had relapses, only confining progressive symptom load, heavily spinal. 23 years on Beta Seron (in lottery), then pill when it came out. MY. STORY.
      . KK krueger [email protected]

      • Kris says:

        KK-I’m 56 and have had ms for over 30 years. Rotator cuff surgery 4 years ago and cuz immobile for 9 mos have steadily declined. BUT found “the ms gym” on Facebook with Trevor Wicken. He’s a PT and has ms exercises that really work. Keep moving and no sugar or gluten and things will get better !!

    • Georgene Sanchez says:

      I’ve been told the same ~ lived w/the disease for 30years ~ still ambulatory w/assistance such asa walker Diagnosed when the only option was PREDNISONE THROUGHOUT THE YEARS I’VE TRIED ANYTHING AVAILABLE! Hold my own & still GIGGELING! LOOK FORWARD TRYING OCREVUS!

  3. john t. hardin says:

    i have had PP MS for over 20 years and itgets worst every year..how can i get this new drug ?? i have medicare and a supplement…can not afford any other payment >>> john hardin

    • Cheryl Feinberg says:

      According to my MD, Medicare gives a very hard time for Ocrevus. Private insurance tends to be more magnanimous.

      • Cathie Owings says:

        There are patient assistance programs for this drug. I am 60, SPMS and they asked me if my husband and I made less than $100,000 a year. Because we didn’t I was eligible. To answer the why not SPMS? My Dr told me the trial only includes RRMS and PPMS. I guess they just lumped us as having a little of both problems.

        • Cathie Owings says:

          There are patient assistance programs for this drug. I am 60, SPMS and they asked me if my husband and I made less than $100,000 a year. Because we didn’t make that much I was eligible. To answer the why not SPMS? My Dr told me the trial only included RRMS and PPMS. I guess they just lumped us as having a little of both problems.

  4. joan quilter says:

    I notice in all the news about this drug, very little is mentioned about risks and side effects. This drug can cause cancer; why isn’t there mention of this fact?

  5. charles says:

    my understanding is that the exact mechanism of action for this drug is not yet fully known. it does deplete b cells, but not precursor b cells or plasma cells, which is why there is an increased risk of cold and flu. the exact downstream effect in the immune system that is relevant to multiple sclerosis is what i have not yet seen. the mere presence of polyclonal bands in cerebrospinal fluid is not sufficient evidence to convince me that b cell attack myelin at all. i suspect that the depletion of b cells somehow affects the maturation and proliferation of regulatory t cells, but this needs to actually be investigated in a mouse model. for now it is sufficient to know that the drug works very well, and i hope to get on it soon.

  6. Michelle Rucci says:

    Does this new drug help if you have Secondary Progessive ms? What is the difference between Primary and Secondary?
    Thanks, Michelle Rucci

    • Richard Fontana says:

      I would think this drug is a fit for secondary-progressive as we are right in between R-R and P-P…
      Why wouldn’t all 3 stages qualify? We want to know!

  7. Reenie says:

    I start my first treatment on May 9th…I am SPMS…Was diagnosed in 1999…off all MS medications for 2 years… Had 4 Rituxan tx then my new insurance refused to cover it. I look forward to, am excited about starting Ocrevus…scared? yes whether it helps or not, I have no other choice at this point in my life (55 yrs old) than to give Ocrevus a go before I totally fall apart…. RR to PP has to go through SPMS…that’s how I look at it…I was approved is all I care about…I’m STOKED, EXCITED, beyond words ESTATIC… Good luck to all MS warriors with whatever your life style, form of medication etc We Rock!!!!

    • Kris says:

      Reenie- in the same boat as you! But we won’t get ppms from spms. Check out The ms gym on Facebook with Trevor Wicken. Guy is amazing. Keep moving …whatever u can!!

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Hi Tammy. This is something that you can talk with your doctor about. Hopefully Medicaid will help with the costs. You can also contact the manufacturer of the drug themselves as they have helped several families in conjunction with insurance.

  8. Danielle says:

    Hi, there. I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with RR MS nearly 20 years ago. I used to take Rebif but have been taking Aubagio for the past two years, as I have now been diagnosed as secondary progressive. Would this new medication be likely to help me to hold off any further progression? I am pretty ambulatory but have definitely experienced a decline in the last few years and would love to combat any further progression!

  9. Linda says:

    This drug has been approved for all types of MS, regardless of age. My husband is nearly 67 and has PPMS and was approved immediately. We have seen no clear result yet (he has finished the first 2 doses) but remain hopeful. He is on Medicare and the treatment is at no cost. If you are being turned away for some reason, call Genentech.

  10. Nay says:

    I don’t think you see results in two weeks from everything I’ve read regarding their clinical trials. I saw Christina Reyes story, prior to taking Ocrevus…she had to use crutches and a wheelchair. She was diagnosed in 1990 (age 15). After taking Ocrevus…she can now walk without assistance. Stay hopeful and pray!

  11. Selena says:

    From my understanding this doesn’t improve your condition but may stop it from getting worse? Ppms and may be starting in September.

  12. Carol says:

    I have 2ndary Progessive MS and my dr said I am on the list to take it, he says he is putting his worst patients on the drug first to see how they handle it.

  13. Sarah Lockhart says:

    I’m 34 I’ve been living with ms for about 6 yrs now. Will this help me and wil Medicaid pay for it? I live in Tennessee. I am loosing my hands and my left eye but I read about this and I hear you can catch herpes virus or hepitias is this true?

  14. Terri says:

    I’ve also read that there is a 1/30,000 chance of PML (brain infection that can be deadly). I know that the drug is new, would love to hear your stories of success, etc.

    • Terri says:

      Sorry, the 1/30,000 was for a different drug. Although my paperwork says about Ocrevus:
      * Possible cancer
      * Possible respiratory
      * Possible herpes
      * Possible PML
      * Reactivation of hepatitis B

  15. Clara Murphy says:

    I have had breast Cancer and I am clear now, I have been offered to take Ocrevus,
    I am 65 had Chemo and radiation. I was told I had MS in 2007 and less
    than 3 mos told I had Cancer. I am concerned about a return of Cancer
    and wish someone who came down with Breast Cancer while taking Ocrevus would give me some insite if they thought Ocrevus was the cause of there Cancer?
    Thank you
    Clara Murphy
    ?

  16. Mrs durling says:

    Hi could someone please tell me if they live in the UK and have been offered this drug as we are desperate to get it for someone with ppms who is on no drugs and is detereating.

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