The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has advised that Ocrevus can be prescribed by the National Health Service (NHS) for people with PPMS who have had symptoms for less than 15 years, have active inflammation on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and have an Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score of 6.5 or below. That last criterion means patients must be able to walk at least 20 meters (about 65 feet), with or without a walking aid, to be eligible.
PPMS affects about 15% of people with MS. This form of the disease is characterized by symptoms that continually worsen over time, as opposed to the periods of remission that define relapsing-remitting MS.
Historically, progressive forms of MS have been difficult to treat effectively. Prior to Ocrevus, there were no therapies approved to treat PPMS due to a lack of effectiveness among the available MS treatments.
Ocrevus has proven effective in clinical trials testing the medication in people with PPMS, with results showing that the treatment slows disability progression and can extend the time to become wheelchair dependent, helps maintain the strength and function of the arms and hands, and reduces disease progression, among others.
Ocrevus is a monoclonal antibody developed by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. It works by binding to a protein receptor on B-cells (a type of immune cell involved in MS development), blunting the autoimmune response that drives MS.
The medication was approved last year for the treatment of people with PPMS in England by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Roche is currently working with the NHS in Wales and Northern Ireland to make it available to people with PPMS throughout the United Kingdom.
“The MS Trust is delighted that Ocrevus has been approved for primary progressive MS. As the first approved treatment for progressive MS in Scotland, this is a landmark decision. But we know this is just the start,” David Martin, CEO of the U.K. MS Trust, said in a press release.
“More treatments for progressive MS are still desperately needed, and we will continue to fight to ensure everyone with MS can access the treatments they need,” Martin added.
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