New medication approved to treat MS

Ocrelizumab is thought to be a ‘game changer’ for patients with MS

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a new drug this week that has many patients of multiple sclerosis (MS) and their care providers excited about improved outcomes. Ocrelizumab has been approved for the treatment of primary progressive MS and relapsing forms of MS.

“This new medication could very well be a game changer for many people living with MS,” said Robert S. Tillett, Jr., M.D., neurologist with Norton Neurology Services – MS Services. “This medication differs from previous treatment options because it offers treatment for both primary progressive MS and relapsing forms of MS.”

Are you or someone you love struggling to understand an MS diagnosis? Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center offers educational, therapeutic, support and exercise programs. Our staff can also assist with:

  • Access to medical care and medical equipment
  • Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Financial challenges
  • Referrals to community resources and home health agencies

The resource center’s services are available at no cost to you or your family. The goal is to tailor support services so that you receive the personal attention you deserve to address your physical and emotional needs. For more information, call the Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center at (502) 599-3230.

Primary progressive MS, the rarest form of MS, is progressive from the start and affects about 10 percent of patients. In relapsing forms of MS, symptoms occur quickly for hours or days, then often get better or go away. Then the symptoms may reoccur months or years later. This pattern can go on for years before diagnosis.

According to Dr. Tillett, ocrelizumab takes a different approach to treating MS.

“The research shows that ocrelizumab temporarily blocks immune system cells called B cells that have been discovered to play a key role in the disease. None of the medications on the market take this approach,” Dr. Tillett said. “Previous medications have always targeted the immune system’s T cells, because they have long been named the primary culprit in MS.”

Ocrelizumab is administered by intravenous infusion every six months and takes about three to four hours. There is no pain or discomfort.

“The treatment options and medication choices for managing MS have just really taken shape in the past 25 years,” Dr. Tillett said. “Within the past 10 years we’ve seen the development of oral and infusion medications, which are now the primary choices for treating active MS. This form of treatment has been successful; however, there has been side effects, including progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare but serious demyelinating disease of the brain. This side effect has yet to be associated with the new medication ocrelizumab. Testing also shows ocrelizumab to be a highly effective therapy for relapsing MS and will be the only known treatment for primary progressive MS.”

Dr. Tillett and his colleagues at the Norton Neuroscience Institute have identified more than 50 patients who they feel could benefit from this new medication.

For more information on the treatment of MS or to become a patient with Norton Neurology Services – MS Services, call (502) 899-6782.

 


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