In two weeks, Ocrevus will be available to those suffering from both relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the most common form, and primary progressive MS, which affects about 10 to 15 percent of MS patients.
Before Ocrevus’ approval, there were no treatments for primary progressive MS, which is incredibly aggressive and causes consistently worsening symptoms.
Ocrevus targets B-cells via IV every six months. This is a new approach to treating MS, versus older drugs that target the immune system. Thus, Ocrevus was fast-tracked through the FDA by being considered a “breakthrough” drug. While it isn’t a cure, it has been proven to cut relapses in more patients with relapsing-remitting MS than the current treatment, Rebif.
As with most breakthrough rare disease drugs, there are a few caveats to consider:
- Ocrevus comes with a price tag of $65,000 per year which. And while it sounds expensive, it’s still 25% less than Rebif’s price tag of around $86,000.
- Side effects are immune-suppressing i.e. there is an increased risk of infections and cancers. Though the drug is considered relatively safe.
Currently, about 400,000 people in the US are suffering from MS and over 2.5 million people are struggling with it around the world. This drug can change so many patients’ lives and give them opportunities they’ve been hoping for. Angie Randall, a PW Contributor and mom with MS told us,
“This huge for the MS community! Ocrevus is not only going to help those suffering with progressive and relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, but it brings hope that we’re one step closer to a cure.”