I wanted to write another post about Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) the new drug approved recently by the FDA for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and primary progressive multiple sclerosis. I am hoping I can simplify the drug information for people here. I’m not going to go explain what relapse remitting multiple sclerosis is or primary multiple sclerosis is because I’m assuming if you’re looking for information about this drug, you either have it or someone you know has it. If you’re looking at this drug, you are more advanced in the MS spectrum. I’m not a doctor, so please don’t except my advice as medical advice, but if you were just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, this wouldn’t be the first drug I’d be looking at to take. In my opinion, I would start with the less risky your drugs that of been on the market for a long time like Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, or Rebif. As you move up the drug line with multiple sclerosis drugs, you also move up the line with side effects and risks
- Is an immunosuppressive drug that targets B lymphocytes.
- Is given every 6 months
- Is given intravenously
- Should not be given to anyone with hepatitis B
- Has NOT been tested on anyone who is pregnant however based on animal studies it DOES NOT appear to be safe for pregnant women to take; the drug is secreted in the breast milk
- The drug is priced around $65,000 a year
- Most common side effects are infusion reactions including itchy skin, rash, hives, flushing, throat and/or mouth irritation, fever, fatigue, nausea, rapid heartbeat, headache, dizziness.
- The highest incidence of side effect was seen on the first infusion
- There were no fatal infusion reactions reported but 0.3% of patients experienced infusion reactions serious enough to require hospitalization during the trials
- Patients will be observed for an hour after the completion of the infusion but reactions can occur up to 24 hours after the infusion
- One person died in the clinical study from systematic inflammatory response syndrome.
- There is increased risk of all kinds of infections; respitory usually the highest.
- There is an increased risk of breast cancer in females. According to numbers submitted to the FDA 6 of the 781 reported breast cancer.
- There was an increase risk of the herpes virus in the clinical studies versus the placebo patients
- There were NO PML (progressive multi focal leukoencephalopathy) cases identified in the clinical trials. PML is a viral infection of the brain caused by the John Cunningham (JC) virus that occur in patients who are immune compromised and that usually leads to death or severe disability. PML has been observed in other patients treated with similar immunosuppressive antibody drug therapies so the risk factor isn’t obsolete with this drug.