Why is this important?
1. Many people with MS who have benefited from Rituximab in the past or could benefit from it now are no longer able to receive it because of insurance restrictions. These study results open the way for FDA approval of this class of medication
2. Only one other MS medication (Lemtrada) has shown significant benefits on relapse rates, disability progression and MRI activity over 2 years when compared to a highly active first line DMT (Rebif). Remember, it is relatively easy to be better than placebo treatment. Not only is Ocrelizumab better than Rebif, it is relatively safe and well tolerated over 2 years of treatment. A full understanding of the relative benefits and risks of Ocrelizumab awaits final release of the actual study data for us to review, but the statements in their press release are very exciting.
3. Any treatment that can be administered as infrequently as every 6 months will be welcome to most MS patients
4. Depending on our review of the study data, this drug may benefit certain secondary progressive MS patients
All are cause for celebration.
Revere (Rip) Kinkel MD
Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program
University of California San Diego