Ocrevus: FDA Approves First Drug To Treat Aggressive Multiple Sclerosis

Those suffering from aggressive and severe multiple sclerosis have new hope for treatment and relief in the form of a drug called Ocrevus.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis – sometimes referred to as just MS – is the name of an unpredictable and sometimes disabling disease that affects a person’s central nervous system. MS disrupts the flow of information within the brain and the information that flows back and forth between the brain and the body. It is a disease that reduces a person’s coordination and ability to walk over a period of time.

Ocrevus Has Been Approved For Both Types of MS

Late on Tuesday afternoon, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ocrevus after a huge study discovered the drug was able to slow the progression of MS as well as reducing the symptoms of the condition. To date, Ocrevus is the first drug treatment for severe and aggressive multiple sclerosis that has been approved by the FDA. The drug has also been approved for the most common type of MS – the relapsing-remitting type – as well.

Closeup snapshot of IV fluid medication dripping
New MS drug treatment [Image by Arnon Thongkonghan/ShutterStock]

Technically, Ocrevus isn’t the only treatment on the market for MS as there are more than a dozen drug treatment options for someone with the most common forms of MS. There, however, hadn’t previously been a specific drug treatment for people with a type of multiple sclerosis called progressive MS. This type of MS is considered to be relatively rare as it only impacts roughly 50,000 people in the U.S.

While the drug treatment Ocrevus is not intended to be a cure for multiple sclerosis, it is going to be used as a weapon by the 400,000 people who suffer from MS, NBC News reports. In study trials of 1,600 volunteers, this new drug treatment cut the relapse of patients with the most common form of MS by almost 50 percent compared to an older MS drug called Rebif.

According to NBC News, Ocrevus will be on the market within two weeks. It is going to cost $65,000 a year. This price is comparable to the price of Rebif which is a drug that has been used to treat MS for 14 years.

“Given every six months by IV infusion, Ocrevus represents a scientific advancement as a first-in-class therapy targeting B cells, a type of immune cell that plays a central role in the disease.”

Christina Reyes is the name of an elementary school teacher residing in Converse, Texas, that was diagnosed with MS in 1990 at the young age of 15. As a young woman, she was forced to use a leg brace and a cane to walk around. There were times where she even needed a wheelchair to remain mobile.

“I cried. It broke my heart,” Reyes told NBC News.

“There were times when I could not bathe myself. I had to ask my mother to wash my hair. I couldn’t write. I felt drained all the time.”

Christina Reyes made the decision to join the experiment trial for Ocrevus because she was exhausted and upset by what she had to endure every day. Now 42 years old, Reyes has had a hard life as she got diagnosed at such a young age. She hoped the study would give other people who were in her position options so they do not have to suffer the way she did.

According to Reyes, the drug treatment Ocrevus helped her tremendously with her multiple sclerosis. She no longer needs her braces or her wheelchair to get around. The drug treatment provide her with just what she hoped and prayed for.

New drug for MS approved [Image by Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz/ShutterStock]

Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and CEO of National MS Society, notes there are a number of comparable drug treatments on the market for MS. The drugs, however, often suppress the immune system, have dangerous side-effects, or do not alter the course of the disease.

Cyndi Zagieboylo hopes Ocrevus is a milestone in MS treatment that allows the development for more treatment options in the future. Do you know someone who could benefit from taking Ocrevus?

[Featured Image by Satyrenko/Shutterstock]