5 Things to Know About the New MS Drug Ocrevus

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 arrived 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.

32 comments

    • homelessfish says:

      Who cares about side effects. After 19 years of MS and doing every MS drug I can tell you unless the side effect is death the second the drug hits your system then there is no effect I haven’t had or wouldn’t put up with if it helps me in my daily life.

      • Deanna says:

        I did Copaxone for 11 years, & Tysabri for 9. I have my first 1/2 dose of Ocrevus Friday. I must admit I’m a little nervous, but the possibility of not being able to walk or take care of myself or enjoy life is a lot scarier than whatever side effects it might have!!

        • Shawna says:

          I had my first 1/2 dose Thursday. It’s not so bad. I’ve been diagnosed since 1988. I’ve tried MANY of the medications out there. I’m happy to report so far so good.

  1. Joshua A. Bloomstone, MD, FASA says:

    Great information. Rebif is a relatively old drug by today’s standards. How about Ocrevus versus Tysabri or Tecfidera?

    If one is taking Tecfidera for RRMS and doing well, should they consider changing to Ocrevus for control of disease progression?

  2. CINDY williams says:

    The drugs costs is way out of reach of most MS patients and Medicare will not cover, do not much help for a lot of people!

    • Marie says:

      Genentech has a support Program that you can apply when your Neurologist files your Paperwork. Just add your Annual Income and Insurance Information. I have Medicare which does not cover it and they helped me:-)

    • Patrick S. says:

      Apparently the manufacturer will provide free of charge to Australians until it receives it’s pending PBS approval in November. I was told this today.

      Speak with your neurologist you may be pleasantly surprised.

    • Dianna says:

      Medicare pays 80 percent and there r foundations to pay the rest. I started ocrevus Aug 25,2017 and had the 2nd part of first infusion on 8 sept 2017. My first full infusion will be on March 25,2017. I am looking forward to this date.

  3. Christopher Whited says:

    Hello. My first round of infusions we’re in June of this year. I was diagnosed with PPMS and I’m 40 years old. For side effects I have yet to have any. The team of experts that give you the your infusions make sure to give you other meds to prevent any side effects. I am very happy with my care so far.

  4. DJM says:

    I have been on Tysabri for over 130 treatments and I feel like it’s not working anymore I don’t get that, boost after taking it like I did at 1st and now loosing some of my walking ability using a walker now instead of a walking stick getting some headache again. I have a great Dr. and we have kinda talked about it some, we just had a pile of blood work done to test for all kinds of stuff, some of the results are back but not all of them, is Ocrevus a better drug than Tysabri

    • Sandi Reeves says:

      hey DJM I am in the same situation you seem to be in, I was just wondering if you had any new information with your question. I am constantly looking and no one wants to really compare the drugs. I guess as always what works for one may not for the next.. Any new info would be great….
      Sanjenk

  5. Kacey Hebel says:

    I love Tysabri! But I know it had a high risk of PML since I did test positive ☹️. So will this new drug be the best thing for me? I’m 48 years old. I was diagnosed in 1989.Thanks!!

    • jenny says:

      Hi Kacey, I was just scrolling through comments as I look at this new drug. I am 47 and was diagnosed in 1990, so I wanted to say hi. That’s a long time for us to deal with m.s. I have been on Tysabri for 8ish years. I feel like it’s not helping anymore. I’m scared, tired, off balance, sore, shaky…. So I ‘want a new drug’.
      All the best,
      Jenny

      • Shawna says:

        Jenny I completely understand. I’ve had my first 1/2 dose of Ocrevus. No significant side effects have occurred. I’ll be 52 in December. I was diagnosed at 22 in 1988. I’ve been through tons of up and downs. I just keep fighting it. I’m very hopeful this new drug does the job. I just know something has to work. I think this might be the answer we’ve all be praying for. Hope it helps us all.

  6. B. Marsh says:

    Hmmm, WHY would a drug company “reward” doctors for prescribing this new drug ?? One neurologist said he’d “get a cruise” if he got 5 patients to accept treatment with Ocrevus. Might we be suspicious and call that a conflict of interest ?? At a cost of approximately $72,000 a year for each patient, if all that doctor said is true, no wonder they can send doctors on cruises, and reason for patients to be VERY cautious. The government did away with cash commissions/rewards for prescribing certain drugs but not “prizes” like cruises. We need the senate to look into this again. This would be medical corruption.

    • Rami says:

      Genentech has one of the highest standards in Compliance with laws and regulations.
      They even have their own very strict rules that’s even more strict than the governmental regulations.
      Please be aware before mentioning such stuff as you are hitting on HOPE for so many patients.

  7. Deb Hugg says:

    I want a cure not another drug. As long as the pharmaceutical industry keeps making trillions of dollars off of us there will never be a cure. Look who sponsors every MS walkathon and bike-athon. Do you think people are going to be out of work or the pharmaceuticals are going to go away… Know and thanks to the FDA, Who is owned by the pharmaceutical industry, we will never see a cure. If this were contagious there would be a cure because no one would live like this.

    • Shawna says:

      Deb not True. HIV/AIDES hasn’t been cured yet. In 1988 when I was diagnosed the only treatment available for MS were steroids. I am grateful that there are medications to slow the progression. Hopefully in my life time there will be a cure and immunization. Stay positive. Please

    • Shelley says:

      I just read Ann Romney’s book and it talks about the research their doing at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases opened in 2016. She is fighting hard to radicate this and other neuralogical diseases.

  8. Jacklynn Baker says:

    I have received my first two infusions. No side effects. Yet.
    I am fighting with my insurance company who initially approved me for the treatment but the hospital filed the claim under a different procedure code than the code that was approved. Now they are trying to bill me for >$95,000 for the two treatments.

    • Clinton Lenker says:

      Wow, I am about to start this treatment in a couple of weeks and the price tag and insurance shenanigans have me worried. Hope your insurance company ponies up and does the right thing!

  9. Todd Cummings says:

    Too much of a headache with all this. If there’s no cure why take something that could possibly kill you with PML. Medicare Advantage Insurance problems & too much paperwork. My brain can’t handle it…overwhelmed…

  10. Paula says:

    I’ve been taking Aubagio for just over a year now. MRI shows significant number of new plaque lesions and my ability to walk and use my right arm has severely declined …. so it’s apparently not working for me. How does Ocrevus compare?

  11. Charissa says:

    Why has there been no activity on this chat for 2 months? Diagnosed with MS in 1995 and considering trying Ocrevus. Currently on Gilenya but think it is not working so well.

  12. Beth DiMeglio says:

    Hi I have RR MS and I am 40 years old and was diagnosed 2 and 1/2 years ago. I’ve had symptoms every day sometimes worse than other days. Mine is constant.. after being on Tecfidera for the 2 years I decide to try Ocrevus. I just received my second half dose on Tuesday and I feel worse than ever. Worsened MS pain, numbness, major muscle weakness, can barely stand or walk without using walls, sleeplessness, and fatigue .. I’m waiting it out to see if this is just the adjustment period. I really hope to feel better, but I do not have the best of luck considering I fell in the 5% chance of even getting MS along with my identical twin sister. My doctor also failed to tell me that it can take 4 months to feel better..ugg. I heard this like a miracle drug so I’m still hopeful and waiting for relief.

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