What is Ocrevus Uses, warnings & interactions
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Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) is a monoclonal antibody that is manufactured by Genentech, Inc. It is FDA-approved to treat adults with certain types of multiple sclerosis (MS). In MS, your immune system attacks and damages the myelin around the nerve cells in your central nervous system. Ocrevus targets certain B cells (lymphocytes) which are thought to cause the inflammation that leads to MS symptoms.
If your doctor has prescribed Ocrevus to you, you may want to know more about what it is and how it works. Here we’ll explain what Ocrevus is used for, how it works, its side effects, and more.
What is Ocrevus used for?
Ocrevus is a disease-modifying therapy (DMT) used to treat adults with:
- Relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), including relapsing-remitting MS and active secondary progressive disease
- Primary progressive MS (PPMS)
How does Ocrevus work?
Ocrevus is a recombinant monoclonal antibody whose mechanism of action is not fully understood. It is thought to work by binding to B-lymphocytes on your immune cells to alter how they work. This helps reduce brain and spinal cord lesions associated with MS.
What are the most commonly prescribed doses of Ocrevus?
- 300mg/10m (30mg/ml) in a single-dose vial for infusion
Before taking Ocrevus
Before taking Ocrevus, tell your healthcare provider about your medical conditions, including:
- Active infection
- Are taking other MS treatments or medications that affect your immune system
- Current or history of hepatitis B
- History of inflammatory bowel disease or colitis
- Have had a recent vaccine or are scheduled to receive a vaccine
- Are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding
How will you receive Ocrevus?
- Read the Full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide that comes with Ocrevus.
- Ocrevus is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion in your arm. It may be given in a doctor’s office, clinic, infusion center, or at home. Your doctor will give you medications such as a corticosteroid and an antihistamine to help reduce infusion reactions prior to each treatment.
- Your first dose of Ocrevus is typically given as 2 separate infusions, 2 weeks apart. Each infusion of Ocrevus will take around 2 hours and 30 minutes. After your first dose, you will then receive an infusion every 6 months. They can take between 2 hours to 3 hours and 30 minutes depending on your infusion rate.
You should not use Ocrevus if you have a known allergy to ocrelizumab or any inactive ingredients in its formulation. You should also avoid this medication if you have:
- Active hepatitis B virus infection
- History of a life-threatening infusion reaction to this medication
- Ocrevus can cause infusion reactions, including life-threatening or disabling reactions. Your doctor may discontinue this medication if a serious reaction occurs.
- Your Ocrevus infusion should be delayed if you have an active infection. You can resume therapy once the infection is resolved.
- You should receive any non-live vaccines at least 2 weeks before you start Ocrevus and any live or live-attenuated vaccines at least 4 weeks before starting treatment.
- A rare brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) has been reported with the use of Ocrevus. Notify your doctor immediately if you have any new or worsening problems with thinking, eyesight, balance, or weakness on one side of your body.
- Ocrevus can increase your risk of cancer, including breast cancer.
- Notify your doctor if you have new or worsening GI symptoms such as diarrhea as it may be a sign of colitis.
What drugs should not be taken with Ocrevus?
When Ocrevus is taken with other medications, it may change how they work or increase the frequency and severity of side effects. You should ask your doctor if any of the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you take may cause drug interactions with Ocrevus, including:
- Immune-modulating or immunosuppressive medications, including corticosteroids
What are some possible side effects of Ocrevus?
The most common side effects of Ocrevus seen in clinical trials when compared to placebo include:
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Infusion reactions such as skin rash, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, tiredness, or flushing
- Skin infections
- Back pain
- Edema (swelling)
- Herpes infections including shingles and cold sores
Ocrevus can sometimes cause more serious side effects, including:
- Serious, life-threatening allergic reactions (hives, swelling of the face or throat, fast heartbeat, and trouble breathing)
- Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)
- Increased risk of cancer
- Reactivation of hepatitis B virus (HBV)
Contact your healthcare professional for medical advice about any possible adverse effects you experience while taking Ocrevus. You can report your adverse effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.
Your doctor can prescribe other medications if Ocrevus is not right for you. Some alternative FDA-approved or off-label treatment options include:
- Kesimpta (ofatumumab)
- Tysabri (natalizumab)
- Lemtrada (alemtuzumab)
- Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a)
- Gilenya (fingolimod)
- Aubagio (teriflunomide)
- Rebif (interferon beta 1a)
Can you take Ocrevus while you are pregnant or breastfeeding?
It is not known if Ocrevus causes fetal harm. You should use effective birth control during Ocrevus treatment and for 6 months after your last dose. There is a pregnancy registry that monitors women who are exposed to Ocrevus while pregnant. You can enroll in this registry by calling 1-833-872-4370 or visiting www.ocrevuspregnancyregistry.com. It is also not known if Ocrevus is found in breast milk. You should always discuss the risks and benefits of any medication with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
Are there any long-term side effects of Ocrevus?
Ocrevus suppresses your immune system so the longer you take it the higher your risk of developing cancer. It also increases your risk of infections. Be sure to let your doctor know if you develop an infection or have symptoms such as fever, chills, or a cough that will not go away.
How long does Ocrevus suppress your immune system?
The average half-life of Ocrevus is around 28 days. Its effects on your B-cells can last from 6 months to over a year.
Is Ocrevus chemotherapy?
No, Ocrevus is an immunosuppressant medication and not chemotherapy. It works by reducing the activity of your immune system.
How much does Ocrevus cost?
Currently, there is no generic Ocrevus available on the market. The average cost of #2 x 10ml vials of Ocrevus 300mg/10ml is approximately $33,000. However, you can save on brand-name drugs like Ocrevus through NiceRx if eligible for assistance.