FDA approves medication to treat MS

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As expected, Food and Drug Administration approved ocrelizumab for the treatment of adults who have one of several forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Ocrelizumab, which will be marketed as Ocrevus by Genentech, is the first medication that’s meant to treat primary progressive MS (PPMS). It also is aimed at patients who have relapsing forms of MS. The medication is an intravenous solution that’s administered by a health-care professional.

PPMS is the most progressive form of MS, which is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. For most people who have MS, episodes of worsening function are followed initially by recovery periods. However, with PPMS, symptoms don’t disappear and relapse. Instead, the symptoms accumulate and get worse.

Experts tell Consumers Digest that ocrelizumab represents a big breakthrough in the treatment of MS. (You can read more in our report, “Medical Breakthroughs: Advances to Believe In.”)

Ocrelizumab shouldn’t be used in patients who are infected with hepatitis B. Potential serious side effects include infusion-related reactions and malignancies, including breast cancer, FDA says. Common side effects include respiratory tract infections.