A new drug developed by Roche Pharmaceuticals can decrease Multiple Sclerosis (MS) relapses by almost 50 percent. The Swiss drugmaker announced today that the latest medicine for MS performed better than current standard treatment. The drug is called “Ocrelizumab.”

This new treatment represents a great advance for those who suffer from the disease. MS affects about 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It is a chronic and fatal disease that liquidates the nerves and the patients are not able to control their movements. Over time, their ability just vanishes. MS affects women more than man, according to Centers for the Disease and Control Prevention (CDC).

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate. Credit: Healthcare Global

“For decades, we’ve tried different medicines to treat this primary progressive forms of the disease and nothing has worked,” said Dan O’Day, Roche chief operating officer of Pharmaceuticals. “Ocrelizumab is the first medicine to show an effect in significantly reducing the progression for patients with progressing multiple sclerosis. We’re very excited about the benefit that could bring to patients,” CNBC reported.

Three separate studies

The results and benefits from the drug were evaluated through three different studies that were presented at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

Two trials of MS relapsing were performed in Mississippi. The results showed that Ocrelizumab significantly decreased the annualized relapse rate by 46 and 47 percent, when compared to Merck KGaA’s Rebif, while the rate of Confirmed Disability Progression (CDP) was 37 and 43 percent lower.

“This is potentially a big deal for our patients,” said Stephen Hauser, chief of neurology at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and a leader of the two studies in relapsing multiple sclerosis, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In a third study, a group of patients with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) on Ocrelizumab, presented a lower progress of the disease when compared with those patients who were administered with a placebo. The PPMS is a less common form of the disease, and it is the first time researchers found a drug potentially effective to treat it.

In addition, unlike any other drug for MS in the market, Roche’s Ocrelizumab is administered by an infusion once every six months. This is the first Roche’s drug for treating Multiple Sclerosis.

Source: CNBC