Ocrevus Predicted to Be a Billion-dollar Blockbuster

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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Ocrevus, a disease-modifying MS treatment that’s only been on the market a little less than 18 months, appears poised to be a cash cow for its maker, Genentech.

The research firm Spherix Global Insights, which analyzes trends in the pharmaceutical industry, predicts that Ocrevus is “poised to blow past the $1B mark in the coming year. …” In a promotional email, the firm says that 76 percent of the neurologists it surveyed report treating some of their patients with Ocrevus in the second quarter of 2018. The survey also indicates that about 6.1 percent of the MS patients who are currently being treated with a DMT are being treated with Ocrevus.

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There’s been a steady quarterly increase in Ocrevus’ market share since the disease-modifying therapy (DMT) arrived in March 2017, and Spherix predicts that percentage will jump to 8.3 in the fourth quarter of this year. If that’s accurate, the market share will have almost doubled from where it was at the start of 2018. The researchers at Spherix call that “one of the most (if not the most) impressive launch trajectories in the multiple sclerosis (MS) market.”

The business of infusions

Ocrevus is an infusion. If you’re being treated with it, or with one of the other DMTs that are infusions, you know that it’s not always easy to find a location where you can receive this sort of treatment. Infusions are usually handled in a hospital or in a specialized infusion center. I regularly hear stories of people with MS who have to travel hours to receive their infusions.

The Spherix report indicates, however, that this location problem may start to improve. It says that of the 46 percent who reported they don’t have an infusion suite in their office nearly a third are considering adding one. One, who is quoted in Spherix’s promotional material, sees the demand for infusions as a possible business opportunity. “We are just looking into this; trying to figure out if it is going to make money for us or not,” the doctor says.

I guess that physicians are also business people, and I applaud that doctor for being honest. But it would certainly be nice to think that his decision would be based on better, or broader, patient care, rather than on whether an infusion suite in the office would be a moneymaker.

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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.


Doug avatar


Thanks for this article Ed. Having PPMS, I am grateful that we have Ocrevus as a treatment option. My third round is this month.

However it is disturbing to read the market research firm refer to us as the “MS market.”

I only hope ongoing research is dedicated to helping us “MS patients,” not focusing on sales figures to a target market.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for your comments, Doug.

You're right, the "MS market" is not a term that we patients would find appropriate. However, the fact is that we are customers, whether we like it or not. I think that researchers have patients in mind but pharmaceutical companies are businesses and their focus is, naturally, their bottom line.

Good luck with your Ocrevus treatments. I'm glad that it's available for you and others who hope to beat this disease.


Matt avatar


Yep it’s a shame that we are the cash cow for these companies. Why find a cure for something that they can make trillions from and you can live longer with than most diseases.

We dy avatar

We dy

When infusion centers are charging $65,000 per dose...no kidding. I am lucky I have insurance that pays the ridiculous price for this drug and I was able to have it for treatment. What is appalling is that so many other people have to suffer by not getting it due to insurance that will not cover the costs. I think the pharmaceutical industry needs to take a closer look at healing people rather than the $1 billion they're making off this drug. Kind of cheapens my thinking about them to be honest.

Al avatar


Money prevents cures. This is the perfect example. I am a patient with PPMS and several rounds of this drug did nothing. Glad they're going to make a billion off us so fast though. Drug prices in this country are astronomical. This so called less expensive wonder drug is rebranded rituxan with a small change to make it slightly different and my hospital infusion bills were close to $100,000 each 6 months. As long as so many people are making so much money off of drugs like this, there will be no interest in big pharma curing anything. Let's cross our fingers and hope someone smaller comes up with at least good treatment that isn't out for money. When's the last time anything was actually cured?

Karen Aneshansley avatar

Karen Aneshansley

Didn't Rituxan come from Genentech? It is prescribed off label in it's generic form as Rituximab and is an effective treatment for early PPMS. Ocrevus may be safer than Rituxan but for a PPMS patient who has little to no choices the choice of Rituxan or Rituximab a decade ago might have made a difference.

Alan R. Stein avatar

Alan R. Stein

As with so many issues, politics are inextricably bound to the matter of big pharma and the exorbitant prices charged for their high-tech treatments for difficult-to-treat health conditions.

A single payer health care model, such as is used in Medicare, would greatly reduce, or in some cases eliminate, the emphasis on profits that currently dominate so much of the forces that determine the cost and availability of treatments available to various patient populations.

And this is ESPECIALLY TRUE if the power to negotiate and regulate reimbursement costs were included as an integral component of the single payer health care system that would be developed to address the multiplicity of problems inherent in the for-profit system that is so deeply ingrained in American society.

Peggy Hoffman avatar

Peggy Hoffman

Speaking of Politics, I was so digusted with the recent Congressman who as soon as he found out the MS drug he was backing, illegally pulled out of the company. And said he was helping MS patients that was why he was backing the company. What a crook he was hoping to reap the super high profits from the drug. What a disappointment to use our disease to make a profit and then lie about it.


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