It’s that time again for the MS specialists, researchers, nurses, therapists and journalists to gather for the annual ECTRIMS conference. ECTRIMS, short for the European Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis, is THE premiere conference, where the various interests gather to learn about a wide variety of treatment options, hear about breaking news from the researchers, and in general immerse themselves in all things MS for a few days with their peers.
Very few of us lay people who would like to attend are able to go to ECTRIMS, primarily because of the logistics and expense of getting to Europe; this year’s conference is in Barcelona. Instead of drinking Sangria and eating tapas in Spain, we wait for the headlines and press releases to tell us the big stories breaking at ECTRIMS. We get hints in advance, thanks to the public relations agencies and the advance notices, and this year is no different.
Many of us also spend hours reviewing the program guide, which is available online. These program books make for interesting reading because they give insight into the types of classes and work our medical team puts into staying on top of the latest advances in treatment. It is also sometimes possible to spot the BIG stories that might generate headlines, and this year is no different. On the schedule on Saturday, Oct 10, under the sessions marked LATE BREAKING NEWS, appears two studies I want to know more about and I know most everyone living with MS will be interested in, too.
Two Primary Progressive MS treatments about Ocrelizumab and Biotin, have yielded promising results through clinical trials and these two newsworthy studies are part of the Late Breaking News. I still don’t understand how ‘late breaking’ this news can be if it is printed in the program, so there must be something to this title. Oddly, these study presentations appear in the program book directly opposite each other on pages 64-65, while earlier today I read about the parent companies of these two studies in a stock market report and how they will be battling each other in the marketplace.
The ECRTIMS Program listings look like this:
Public discussion about both of these drugs for treating Primary Progressive MS has been circulating widely this year and it is easy to find more information online about these trials. Here are two examples-
Medday’s MD1003 hits ‘ambitious’ endpoints in its MS phase III trial was reported at the American Academy of Neurology meetings earlier this year. Genentech’s Ocrelizumab First Investigational Medicine to Show Efficacy in People with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in Large Phase III Study is the official release regarding Ocreluzimab trial results.
Meanwhile, on the financial side of this news, Reuters news service reported in their stock news headlines-
* French firm MedDay says plans to file rival drug in 2016
* Roche (Symbol: RHHV) claims “significant first” in difficult-to-treat MS
“… Roche looks likely to enjoy a first-mover advantage, creating a multibillion-dollar opportunity for ocrelizumab in both relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) and progressive disease.”
Perhaps in place of Late Breaking News, Saturday’s presentations might be re-labeled the Saturday Night Fights, as it appears the competition has begun and both companies will be looking for a knockout to see who will emerge the winner with a drug that will take care of PPMS while yielding a nice financial prize for their investors. That is definitely another story, which needs to be discussed and I will do so at a later time.
For now I would like to put my cynicism aside about competition and pricing and stock holder expectations, and just revel in the thought that finally the people who live with Primary Progressive MS might have a treatment option they have waited too long for. If we can help my friends with PPMS, I would declare us all winners.
Wishing you well,