In this week’s column, I’ve changed the format a little to focus on one subject: rituximab. This is an approved cancer medication that some U.S. neurologists use as an off-label treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). Rituximab is similar to Ocrevus (ocrelizumab). When the latter disease-modifying therapy (DMT) became available in the U.S., some people with MS who were being treated with rituximab switched to the newly approved DMT.
But I know one woman who switched back to rituximab after about two years on Ocrevus. She seems to have fewer side effects with it. Each of the following stories is from a three-part report based on the rituximab versus Ocrevus discussions that took place at the ECTRIMS conference last month.
More than two years after the approval of Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), B-cell therapies continue to be seen as promising approaches for multiple sclerosis (MS). But it has been debated if rituximab — a B-cell therapy used off-label in MS and also marketed by Genentech — could provide similar or even superior benefits compared with Ocrevus, and at a lower cost.
This question was the focus of a hot topic discussion at the 35th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS), held Sept. 11–13 in Stockholm, where a group of researchers and neurologists voiced their opinions about whether or not rituximab is a reasonable alternative to Ocrevus for people with relapsing MS.
Click here to read the full story.
He is also the principal investigator of a large, long-term observational study called COMBAT-MS (NCT03193866), the purpose of which is to investigate whether rituximab offers advantages over other commonly used disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients. Both untreated patients and patients switching from a previous first-line DMT are being enrolled.