Last night, the FDA approved Ocrelizumab to treat adult patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). This is the first drug approved by the FDA for PPMS. Ocrelizumab (brand name Ocrevus) will be an important treatment option for patients with either relapsing or progressive forms of MS, which is a significant advancement in the treatment of MS.
Ocrelizumab is the first disease modifying therapy to show a clinically meaningful and statistically significant effect on the progression of disease in primary progressive MS in clinical trial research. Ocrelizumab treatment also significantly reduced the annualized relapse rate, the progression of clinical disability assessed by the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), and the number of new MRI lesions in relapsing remitting MS patients in comparison to interferon beta-1a treatment and in primary progressive MS compared to placebo. Ocrelizumab is a drug designed to target CD20-positive B cells. B cells are immune cells that are known to be a key contributor to neurological damage in MS patients.
Knowledge about MS has grown tremendously in the last few decades and this has led to the development of disease modifying therapies. The first DMTs were introduced in the early 1990s, and there are now there are 15 FDA-approved DMTs in use – adding to our arsenal of treatment tools. We encourage patients to be informed about their condition and all treatment options. Patients should always consult their own physician before commencing any course of treatment.