I remember a time without televised ads promoting medication. We had access to information through our physician or a card catalog. Pharmaceuticals are now a mainstay on our airwaves. And although prevalent, these ads previously had been inapplicable to me.
An ad for Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) aired a few days ago. I looked up from my computer and hung on every word. I watched smiling actors hold up two fingers. Two times a year, ran the narrative. Even myriad potential side effects sounded quasi-delightful.
After it aired, I sat transfixed. Would Ocrevus be better than my current regimen of Rituxan (rituximab)? The Ocrevus ad seems to be new in my TV market, while Rituxan is old. Ocrevus is labeled for multiple sclerosis, while Rituxan is labeled for leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But their mechanisms are similar, as both target B-cells.
An invisible scale appeared in my head: Ocrevus versus Rituxan. As my thoughts continued, so did the capitulation of balance. I closed my eyes and wondered if my current disease-modifying therapy (DMT) is effective.
Medical tests cannot provide me with certainty regarding this question. I constantly grapple with this truth. As my disease progresses, it is more challenging to accept. I do have new lesions in my cervical spine, but that does not negate the efficacy of my DMT. My disease also may progress faster without Rituxan. In the absence of empirical evidence to the contrary, I choose to believe this.
I called my neurologist to discuss my quandary. I am fortunate to have a remarkable physician who is always willing to talk about my concerns. We do not have a litmus to measure efficacy precisely. We do know that in my four years on Rituxan, I am somewhat stable despite progression. What does that mean? While my gait has worsened, I am still ambulatory. While my numbness has increased, I can still grasp objects. While my dysphasia has me frustrated, for the most part, it has remained stable.
My tolerance for Rituxan has been good. Side effects occur immediately after infusion and are unremarkable.
I am encouraged by my dilemma. It signals the imminent arrival of new and potentially better DMTs. As these medications emerge, touch base with your neurologist to determine which treatment plan is best for you.
In the time I have written this column, I have seen two Ocrevus ads. The relevance of DMTs for MS excites and inspires me. If the recent trend is any indication, this trajectory will continue skyward.
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.