South San Francisco, CA — March 28, 2017 — Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) as the first and only medicine for both relapsing and primary progressive forms of multiple sclerosis. The majority of people with MS have a relapsing form or primary progressive MS at diagnosis.
“The FDA’s approval of Ocrevus is the beginning of a new era for the MS community and represents a significant scientific advance with this first-in-class B cell targeted therapy,” said Sandra Horning, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “Until now, no FDA-approved treatment has been available to the primary progressive MS community, and some people with relapsing forms of MS continue to experience disease activity and disability progression despite available therapies. We believe Ocrevus, given every six months, has the potential to change the disease course for people with MS, and we are committed to helping those who can benefit gain access to our medicine.”
In two identical RMS Phase III studies (OPERA I and OPERA II), Ocrevus demonstrated superior efficacy on the three major markers of disease activity by reducing relapses per year by nearly half, slowing the worsening of disability and significantly reducing MRI lesions compared with Rebif® (high-dose interferon beta-1a) over the two-year controlled treatment period. A similar proportion of people in the Ocrevus group experienced a low rate of serious adverse events and serious infections compared with people in the high-dose interferon beta-1a group in the RMS studies.
In a separate PPMS Phase III study (ORATORIO), Ocrevus was the first and only treatment to significantly slow disability progression and reduce signs of disease activity in the brain (MRI lesions) compared with placebo with a median follow-up of three years. A similar proportion of people in the Ocrevus group experienced adverse events and a low rate of serious adverse events compared with people in the placebo group in the PPMS study.
The most common side effects associated with Ocrevus in all Phase III studies included infusion reactions and upper respiratory tract infections, which were mostly mild to moderate in severity. Results from these three Phase III studies were recently published in the January 19, 2017 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
“This is an exciting day for everyone touched by MS, a disease that strikes in the prime of a person’s life when she or he may be starting a career or family,” said June Halper, MSN, APN-C, MSCN, FAAN, chief executive officer at the Consortium for MS Centers. “We have eagerly awaited the FDA approval of Ocrevus because it not only offers a new, highly efficacious treatment option for people with relapsing multiple sclerosis, but it is also the first disease-modifying therapy indicated for primary progressive multiple sclerosis, a highly disabling type of this chronic disease. For many people living with MS, this FDA approval is a source of hope.”
Ocrevus will be available to people in the U.S. within two weeks. Genentech is committed to helping people access the medicines they are prescribed and will be offering comprehensive services for people prescribed OCREVUS to help minimize barriers to access and reimbursement. Patients can call 1-800-OCREVUS for more information. For people who qualify, Genentech plans to offer patient assistance programs through Genentech Access Solutions. More information is also available at (866) 4ACCESS/(866) 422-2377 or http://www.Genentech-Access.com.
The Ocrevus Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) has also been validated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and is currently under review.
OPERA I and OPERA II are Phase III, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, global multi-center studies evaluating the efficacy and safety of Ocrevus (600 mg administered by intravenous infusion every six months) compared with interferon beta-1a (44 mcg administered by subcutaneous injection three times per week) in 1,656 people with relapsing forms of MS. In these studies, relapsing MS (RMS) was defined as relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and secondary progressive MS (SPMS) with relapses.
ORATORIO is a Phase III, randomized, double-blind, global multi-center study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Ocrevus (600 mg administered by intravenous infusion every six months; given as two 300 mg infusions two weeks apart) compared with placebo in 732 people with PPMS. The blinded treatment period of the ORATORIO study continued until all patients had received at least 120 weeks of either Ocrevus or placebo and a predefined number of confirmed disability progression (CDP) events was reached overall in the study.
A summary of the data from the OPERA I, OPERA II and ORATORIO studies that support this approval is below.
Key data in RMS patients treated with Ocrevus showed:
Key data in PPMS patients treated with Ocrevus showed:
The most common side effects associated with Ocrevus in all Phase III studies were infusion reactions and upper respiratory tract infections, which were mostly mild to moderate in severity. Potential serious side effects may include infusion reactions, infections and malignancies where only routine screening is required based on age and medical history.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects an estimated 400,000 people in the U.S., 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 now, there have 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.
Ocrevus is a humanized monoclonal antibody designed to selectively 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, and therefore important functions of the immune system may be preserved.
Ocrevus is administered by intravenous infusion every six months. The first dose is given as two 300 mg infusions given two weeks apart. Subsequent doses are given as single 600 mg infusions.
Neuroscience is a major focus of research and development at Genentech and Roche. The company’s goal is to develop treatment options based on the biology of the nervous system to help improve the lives of people with chronic and potentially devastating diseases. Roche has more than a dozen investigational medicines in clinical development for diseases that include multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal muscular atrophy, Parkinson’s disease and autism.
Founded 40 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or 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.