Multiple Sclerosis Drug Ocrevus Hailed as a Breakthrough—One That Will Cost $65,000

The first treatment for the most severe form of multiple sclerosis—primary progressive MS—has been approved by the FDA. Ocrevus, manufactured by Genentech, is being hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against primary progressive MS, which afflicts about 15% of the 2.3 million patients worldwide who suffer from MS, according to the Wall Street Journal. Now insurers must find a way to pay for the medication, which is estimated to cost about $65,000 per treatment.  

That’s a problem that’s not going away, because the demand for Ocrevus promises to be intense. Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and chief executive of the National MS Society, tells the Wall Street Journal: “This is a real game-changer” and hopes that “this is just the beginning of the development of the next generation of treatments for MS.”

The majority of MS sufferers do not become severely disabled or paralyzed, but that’s not the case for those with primary progressive MS, which causes a sudden and deadly decline.

The generic name for Ocrevus is ocrelizumab.

The Wall Street Journal: “The drug was a product of collaboration between Dr. Hauser’s team, other academic partners and scientists at Genentech, part of the Roche Group of Switzerland. Ocrelizumab interferes with a type of white blood cells that can course from the bloodstream into the brain, leading to inflammation in the myelin covering of nerve cells. Damage to the myelin sheath and to the underlying nerve fiber are key facets of the disease.”

Source: Wall Street Journal