News on Wellness

New Roche Drug Offers Hope For Multiple Sclerosis Patients

rocheThere are approximately 2.3 million people who suffer from multiple sclerosis worldwide according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  According to reports, there may be some hope for those suffering from the disease. Swiss drugmaker Roche says its experimental medicine for multiple sclerosis, ocrelizumab, performed better in a late-stage clinical trial than a commonly used therapy for the most prevalent form of MS.

The drug also showed a benefit in a less common form of the disease, known as primary-progressive, or PPMS

“For decades, we’ve tried different medicines to treat this primary progressive forms of the disease and nothing has worked,” said Dan O’Day, Roche chief operating officer of Pharmaceuticals. “Ocrelizumab is the first medicine to show an effect in significantly reducing the progression for patients with progressing multiple sclerosis. We’re very excited about the benefit that could bring to patients.”

Roche said it plans to submit its findings to regulators globally in early 2016.

“We want to make the medicine available for patients as soon as possible,” Fontoura said. “In PPMS there are no approved medicines, right, this is a rare condition with really, really major medical need — we hope the regulators will see it that way as well.”

A total of 1656 patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis took the drug, and ocrelizumab proved superior to the commonly used drug Rebif in reducing the annual rate of relapse of major symptoms and other measures of the status of the disease, Roche said in a news release. Fewer than 10% of patients had serious side effects on either drug, the company said.

“This is potentially a big deal for our patients,” said Stephen Hauser, chief of neurology at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and a leader of the two studies in relapsing multiple sclerosis.

As with all new drugs, Dr. Hauser cautioned that it would take further study and follow-up with larger numbers of patients to determine the long-term safety of ocrelizumab.

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