MAR 31, 2017 2:29 PM PDT

New Multiple Sclerosis Drug Wins FDA Approval

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The FDA recently approved the first drug for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). The announcement marks a significant achievement, which is expected to help the 400,000 MS patients in the US.

Multiple sclerosis is described as a demyelinating disease whereby the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin sheath covers in the brain and spinal cord. This disrupts the electrical signal traveling from the brain to the body, and leads to physical and neurologic disabilities. The progressive form of MS causes patients to slowly deteriorate over time, while the relapsing form causes patients to go through bouts of symptoms and recovery. There is no cure for either form of MS.

“Multiple sclerosis can have a profound impact on a person’s life,” said Billy Dunn, the director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This therapy not only provides another treatment option for those with relapsing MS, but for the first time provides an approved therapy for those with primary progressive MS.”

The drug is known on the market as Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), and it works by weakening the immune system. In particular, IV infusions of Ocrevus prevent the B cells from attacking the protective myelin covers.

Tested in patients with both forms of MS (the progressive form and the relapsing remitting form), Ocrevus seems to stop the inflammation process in the brain. This results in less fatigue and muscle weakness. Vision seems to also be improved. Furthermore, scans show significantly less brain loss with the help of ocrelizumab.

"The drug is so much more effective at shutting down inflammation," said David Hafler, an MS expert from the Yale School of Medicine.

Side effects associated with Ocrevus include infusion-related reactions, such as skin irritation, flushing, shortness of breath, and nausea. In addition, upper respiratory tract infections were among the most common side effect seen with the drug in both forms of MS.

Patients eager to be treated with Ocrevus will have to wait just a few more weeks. Furthermore, they should also be aware that this drug comes with a hefty price tag of $65,000 per year. Though the cost is substantial, it is reportedly on par with approved drugs for the other forms of MS.

Additional sources: CNN

About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 06, 2022
Technology
New Prosthetic Provides Relief to Diabetic Amputees
JUL 06, 2022
New Prosthetic Provides Relief to Diabetic Amputees
Diabetes is one of the most prominent chronic conditions in the world. In the U.S. alone, diabetes affects about 10% of ...
JUL 07, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Mini-Kidneys Reveal New Insights, Treatments for Multiple Disorders
JUL 07, 2022
Mini-Kidneys Reveal New Insights, Treatments for Multiple Disorders
Researchers have been able to use animal models to study human disease, but there are clear limitations to that approach ...
JUL 26, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Researchers Recognize New Complicating Factor in Organ Transplantation
JUL 26, 2022
Researchers Recognize New Complicating Factor in Organ Transplantation
Organ transplantation is a life-saving measure that is often a last resort to treat end-stage organ failure. Organ trans ...
JUL 20, 2022
Cardiology
Light Exposure During Sleep Linked to Obesity, Hypertension in Older Adults
JUL 20, 2022
Light Exposure During Sleep Linked to Obesity, Hypertension in Older Adults
Keeping your bedroom dark at night could have a major impact on your health.
AUG 01, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Gut Microbes that Release Histamine Worsen IBS Pain
AUG 01, 2022
Gut Microbes that Release Histamine Worsen IBS Pain
When the white blood cells in our bodies encounter a pathogen, they can release a molecule called histamine, which can h ...
JUL 31, 2022
Technology
Sticker Worn on the Skin Produces Continuous Ultrasound Images
JUL 31, 2022
Sticker Worn on the Skin Produces Continuous Ultrasound Images
Ultrasound technology has been a revolutionary tool used to diagnose conditions and get a better understanding of what&r ...
Loading Comments...