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Roche to start new trials of Ocrevus to defend multiple sclerosis franchise

Published on 09/09/20 at 12:15pm

Roche is to begin expanding trials of Ocrevus in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients to defend its MS franchise from its rivals. 

The company is testing higher doses of Ocrevus against both relapsing MS and primary progressive MS while also studying the treatment in minority populations. The company has also started a late stage trial for fenebrutinib in treating the same forms of MS, and the drug works by inhibiting the production of B-cells that attack the nervous system. However, it doesn’t expect to file this drug for regulatory approval until 2023 if clinical trials prove successful. 

Levi Garraway, Roche’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “We remain committed to advancing the science in MS by investigating potential new medicines such as fenebrutinib, with the ultimate goal of halting progression of this disease.”

Roche is hoping to defend its franchise against MS treatments from its competitors. Novartis is developing its own B-cell inhibitor called Kesimpta that can be used at home rather than a patient needing to go to a clinic. Sanofi also has its own treatment, titled SAR442168, which has been designed to reduce disease activity in relapsing MS. 

Ocrevus was first approved by the FDA in March 2017 to treat adult patients with relapsing forms of MS and primary progressive MS, and was the first treatment approved for the latter condition. 

Conor Kavanagh

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