Ocrevus Treatment and Side Effects: What’s Important to Know

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by Wendy Henderson |

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Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) is a newly FDA-approved therapy for multiple sclerosis. It can be used to treat two forms of the disease: relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and primary progressive MS (PPMS).

MORE: Ocrevus approval: A quick cheat sheet

As with all medications and therapies, there is a risk of side effects and infections. As Ocrevus is administered via intravenous infusions, this carries certain risks. The healthcare team that oversees the IV infusion will monitor patients for an hour after the procedure, but many side effects could take up to 24 hours to occur. Some of the risks of the IV infusion according to Genentech, the makers of Ocrevus, include:

  • Rash or Hives
  • Facial Flushing
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Sore throat
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Racing heart beat
  • Swelling of the throat

It is not known if Ocrevus is a safe therapy for children to take, and the effects on pregnant women and breast milk have yet to be established.

MORE: Learn more about taking Ocrevus for primary-progressive multiple sclerosis

There are other long-term risks associated with Ocrevus and patients with active hepatitis B or are allergic to Ocrevus are not advised to begin the therapy. Other side effects include:

Infections: Ocrevus increases the risk of infections such as respiratory infections, herpes, and skin infections.

Reactivating hepatitis B virus: You should speak to your healthcare team if you’ve had hepatitis B.

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML): Although no patient on the clinical trials for Ocrevus developed this rare brain infection, there is a risk that this could occur.

A weakened immune system: If Ocrevus is taken with other multiple sclerosis medications it may lead to a weakened immune system and leave patients more susceptible to infections.

Cancer: Ocrevus may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer, including breast cancer. You will need to ensure you have regular cancer screenings.

MORE: Ocrevus seen in Phase 3 clinical trials to benefit RRMS and PPMS

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 another 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.