Ocrevus (ocrelizumab)

Ocrevus ™ is a CD20-directed cytolytic antibody indicated for the treatment of patients with relapsing, secondary progressive, or primary progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as those with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). It is a disease-modifying drug (DMD) made from monoclonal antibodies (proteins). Ocrevus is administered by intravenous (IV) infusion in a medical setting. The active ingredient in Ocrevus is ocrelizumab.

How does Ocrevus work?

The way Ocrevus works in MS is not fully understood. The drug binds to CD-20, a cell surface antigen on immune system B-cells, which may be involved in the processes that cause central nervous system damage in MS. Ocrevus destroys those B cells and B cells are thought to be involved in the processes that cause CNS damage in MS.

What are the possible side effects?

Many clinical trials evaluated the safety and efficacy of Ocrevus. The most common side effects experienced by those taking Ocrevus include:

  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Infusion reactions like fever, fatigue or headache
  • Skin reactions or infections
  • Herpes virus-associated infections

Other side effects include:

  • Throat irritation, swelling or difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased risk of developing malignancies (cancer)

This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects of Ocrevus. For more information, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. If you notice any new or worsening side effects when taking Ocrevus, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately. Reactions can happen for up to 24 hours after your infusion. Over-the-counter pain relief medications can be used to minimize symptoms of infusion reactions. Sometimes severe or life-threatening infusion reactions can occur. Always reach out to your doctor if you experience any reactions after receiving Ocrevus.

Things to note about Ocrevus

Ocrevus comes as a sterile, clear or slightly opalescent, and colorless to pale brown solution in a single-dose vial. It must be prepared by a healthcare professional to create the proper drug concentration in an infusion solution. Prior to the start of the treatment, the contents of the infusion bag should be at room temperature. Solutions are visually inspected for particulate matter and discoloration prior to administration. It cannot be used if discolored or contains particulate matter. The prepared infusion solution should be used immediately or stored for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator; or 8 hours at room temperature including time for infusions. If the solution is not used within that time frame or the same day, the solution should be discarded.

Talk to your doctor about any medications you take

Ocrevus may be impacted by other medications; as well as affect the way other medications work. This especially may apply to immune-modulating or immunosuppressive therapies. Your doctor will be able to tell you if any medications you are currently taking fall into these categories, or if they might impact your treatment with Ocrevus.

Prior to initiating treatment with Ocrevus all patients should undergo Hepatitis B virus (HBV) screening. Ocrevus is contraindicated for people with active Hepatitis B virus.

Before starting Ocrevus, talk with your doctor if you:

  • Have an active Hepatitis B virus infection
  • Have a history of hypersensitivity to or life threatening reaction to Ocrevus
  • Have had vaccines within 4 weeks of initiating Ocrevus therapy
  • Have an active infection
  • Are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, as there is limited information on the use of Ocrevus in pregnancy or in nursing mothers

Individuals with the above conditions should be monitored closely while taking Ocrevus.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Ocrevus.

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Written by: Linda Minton | Last reviewed: July 2021.