Therapy Areas: Oncology
EU approves Roche's multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus
12 January 2018 -

Roche's (VTX: ROG) multiple sclerosis medicine Ocrevus has been approved by the European Union, the company said on Friday. The drug has been indicated for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis and primary progressive multiple sclerosis, a form of the neurological disease that until now was without an approved medicine.

Ocrevus is one of the company's key new drugs. It is thought to have generated close to USD1bn in revenue during its first nine months on the US market, Reuters reported.

Roche chief executive Severin Schwan said that the company was relying on the multiple sclerosis drug's revenue to alleviate pressure from sales declines for its big three cancer drugs Rituxan, Herceptin and Avastin. They currently make around USD20bn annually, but are soon to lose patent protection.

"Until Ocrevus, people with primary progressive MS -- who often have to rely on a cane or wheelchair, give up work or have carers look after them -- have not had an approved treatment to slow the progression of their disease," said Gavin Giovannoni, a neurology professor at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry who has worked alongside Roche during the drug's study.

Ocrevus is administered every six months. A yearly course costs around USD65,000 prior to discounts in the United States. This is lower than that of Merck's Rebif. In trials, Ocrevus outdid Rebif in relapsing MS.