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Ocrevus and Rituxan: Are they Similar?

May 11, 2017

The new FDA approved drug for multiple sclerosis (MS), Ocrevus, has been argued that it is a rebranded version of rituximab, Rituxan, which is an off-label to treat relapsing MS. In online forums and social media, people claimed that Ocrevus was a way for its developer, Genentech, to make more money.

This is believed because the U.S. patent covering Rituxan will soon expire. This allows other companies to produce biosimilar versions of the drug, which might be marketed at lower costs.  

Dr. Annette Langer-Gould, former Genentech employee, added fuel to the fire by calling Ocrevus a “fake breakthrough” in an interview.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today attempted to clarify the Ocrevus-Rituxan debate by comparing a number of online statements with those given by a neurologist at Genentech, Dr. Peter Chin, and by Dr. Robert Lisak, a neurologist and past president of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC).

Some clarifications include that Langer-Gold worked at the company 10 years ago. She also had no involvement in the strategic and clinical decisions regarding Ocrevus’ development after she left the company. Also, it is true that Ocrevus and Rituxan both target B-cells. However, they are different molecules in their structure and how they interact with the immune system. Also, because Ritixan is not an approved MS treatment, most health insurance plans do not cover it.

Genentech has been accused of developing Ocrevus to bring in more money by cheating their patients. However, although Rituxan was essential to the company by proving that B-cells played a role in MS, Ocrevus was chosen for development instead. Genentech believed that Ocrevus was better suited to treating a chronic disease like MS. 

READ THE FULL CLARIFICATIONS HERE: https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/2017/04/19/ocrevus-and-rituxan-and-differences-neurologists-respond-to-ms-patients-concerns/