Roche’s Ocrevus confirm its strong position of highly efficacious drug in the MS landscape

Following the publication of new positive data from the Phase IIIb CASTING trial of Roche’s Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS);

Alessio Brunello, Managing Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“Roche’s Ocrevus has several notable clinical attributes that support its strong market uptake, including high efficacy that is comparable to that of Biogen’s Tysabri and superior to that of EMD Serono’s Rebif (IFNβ-1a), infrequent dosing (IV infusion every six months) and an absence of serious side effects such as the increased PML risk that is associated with the long-term use of immunosuppressants such as Tysabri. These new data further reinforce Roche’s Ocrevus as a highly effective treatment for those with MS.

“The launch of Ocrevus enabled Roche to enter the lucrative MS market and will help the company to diversify its existing drug portfolio, which is largely focused on immuno-oncology. Ocrevus’ high efficacy at reducing relapses and good safety profile translated into a rapid uptake in RRMS patients. Although Ocrevus is the first and only approved drug for the treatment of PPMS, it is not a curative treatment. Ocrevus has modest efficacy at slowing disease progression in a subset of PPMS patients (active forms), but it might not work as well in advanced patients who possess high disability and little inflammation (non-active forms).

“Other anti-CD20 mAbs, such as Novartis’ Kesimpta (ofatumumab), have been approved recently by the FDA and will compete with Ocrevus due to their more convenient SC formulation. As a second-in-class anti-CD20 DMT, Novartis will need to demonstrate a clinical advantage for Kesimpta in order to differentiate it from Roche’s Ocrevus, which will hold an established position in the market. Current clinical data suggest that Kesimpta’s efficacy and safety will be comparable. Hence, its uptake will be generated through its advantages in terms of patient convenience. The drug has a SC formulation that allows self-administration, in comparison to IV-administered Ocrevus, and it also requires less frequent administration. Despite this, Kesimpta is still second-in-class and is unlikely to reach the same market share as Ocrevus in RRMS.”

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