South San Francisco, CA — December 14, 2020 — Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a shorter two-hour infusion time for Ocrevus® (ocrelizumab), dosed twice-yearly for those living with relapsing or primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) who have not experienced any prior serious infusion reactions (IRs). The approval was based on data from the randomized, double-blind ENSEMBLE PLUS study.
“More than 170,000 people with MS have been treated with Ocrevus – the only approved B-cell therapy with a twice-yearly dosing schedule – and it is the most prescribed MS medicine in the U.S.,” said Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “We constantly strive to improve the experience that patients and their physicians have with our medicines, and we believe people with relapsing and primary progressive MS will find the shorter two-hour Ocrevus infusion time to be more convenient.”
The ENSEMBLE PLUS study showed similar frequency and severity of IRs for a two-hour Ocrevus infusion time vs. the previously approved 3.5-hour time in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). The first dose was administered per the approved dosing schedule (two 300 mg intravenous [IV] infusions separated by two weeks) and the second or later doses (600 mg IV infusion) were administered over a shorter, two-hour time.
The primary endpoint of this study was the proportion of patients with IR s following the first randomized 600 mg infusion (frequency/severity assessed during and 24-hours post infusion). The frequency of IR s was comparable between those who received the two-hour infusion (24.6%) and those who received the 3.5-hour infusion (23.1%). The majority of IR s were mild or moderate, and more than 98% resolved in both groups without complication. No IR s were life-threatening, serious or fatal. No patients discontinued the study due to an IR and no new safety signals were detected.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the two-hour infusion time in May of 2020 based on a positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP).
Ocrevus has twice-yearly (six-monthly) dosing and is the first and only therapy approved for relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS) (including RRMS and active, or relapsing, secondary progressive MS [SPMS], in addition to clinically isolated syndrome [CIS] in the U.S.) and primary progressive MS (PPMS). Ocrevus is approved in 94 countries across North America, South America, the Middle East, Europe, as well as in Australia.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects nearly one million people in the United States, for which there is currently no cure. MS occurs when the immune system abnormally attacks the insulation and support around nerve cells (myelin sheath) in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, causing inflammation and consequent damage. This damage can cause a wide range of symptoms, including muscle weakness, fatigue and difficulty seeing, and may eventually lead to disability. Most people with MS experience their first symptom between 20 and 40 years of age, making the disease the leading cause of non-traumatic disability in younger adults.
Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common form of the disease and is characterized by episodes of new or worsening signs or symptoms (relapses) followed by periods of recovery. Approximately 85 percent of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS. The majority of people who are diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to secondary progressive MS (SPMS), in which they experience steadily worsening disability over time. Relapsing forms of MS (RMS) include people with RRMS and people with SPMS who continue to experience relapses. Primary progressive MS (PPMS) is a debilitating form of the disease marked by steadily worsening symptoms but typically without distinct relapses or periods of remission. Approximately 15 percent of people with MS are diagnosed with the primary progressive form of the disease. Until the FDA approval of Ocrevus, there had been no FDA approved treatments for PPMS.
People with all forms of MS experience disease activity – inflammation in the nervous system and permanent loss of nerve cells in the brain – even when their clinical symptoms aren’t apparent or don’t appear to be getting worse. An important goal of treating MS is to reduce disease activity as soon as possible to slow how quickly a person’s disability progresses. Despite available disease-modifying treatments (DMTs), some people with RMS continue to experience disease activity and disability progression.
About Ocrevus (ocrelizumab)
Ocrevus is the first and only therapy approved for both RMS (including clinically isolated syndrome, RRMS and active, or relapsing, SPMS) and PPMS, with dosing every six months. Ocrevus is a humanized monoclonal antibody designed to target CD20-positive B cells, a specific type of immune cell thought to be a key contributor to myelin (nerve cell insulation and support) and axonal (nerve cell) damage. This nerve cell damage can lead to disability in people with MS. Based on preclinical studies, Ocrevus binds to CD20 cell surface proteins expressed on certain B cells, but not on stem cells or plasma cells, suggesting that important functions of the immune system may be preserved.
Ocrevus is administered by intravenous infusion every six months. The initial dose is given as two 300 mg infusions given two weeks apart. Subsequent doses are given as single 600 mg infusions.
About Genentech in neuroscience
Neuroscience is a major focus of research and development at Genentech and Roche. Our goal is to pursue groundbreaking science to develop new treatments that help improve the lives of people with chronic and potentially devastating diseases.
Genentech and Roche are investigating more than a dozen medicines for neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and autism spectrum disorder. Together with our partners, we are committed to pushing the boundaries of scientific understanding to solve some of the most difficult challenges in neuroscience today.
Founded more than 40 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious and life-threatening medical conditions. The company, a member of the Roche Group, has headquarters in South San Francisco, California. For additional information about the company, please visit http://www.gene.com.
Posted: December 2020