Ofatumumab is a treatment for ‘active’ relapsing MS. Its brand name is Kesimpta. It’s a monoclonal antibody, one of the more effective types of MS drugs.
Who can take ofatumumab?
In England and Wales you can have ofatumumab if:
- you have ‘active’ relapsing MS. That means you’ve had a recent relapse and/or MRI scans show that you have new lesions.
You might be offered ofatumumab as your first DMT, or if the one you’re already taking isn’t controlling your MS well enough.
Ofatumumab isn’t available on the NHS at the moment in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Decisions on whether it will be available there will come sometime in 2021.
How does ofatumumab work?
Special types of cells in your immune system called B cells are thought to cause a lot of the damage in MS. They normally kill viruses and bacteria that get into your body, but in MS they damage your nerves. They do this by stripping off the covering of myelin from nerves in your brain and spinal cord. Myelin protects nerves from damage, and helps messages travel along them.
Ofatumumab destroys B cells so that there are fewer left to damage the myelin covering around your nerves. The drug reduces how much inflammation is seen on your MRI scans. Doctors can see this inflammation as lesions, areas of damage to nerves.
You inject ofatumumab under your skin with an injector pen once every four weeks. With other monoclonal antibody drugs you must go to hospital for an infusion (they give you the drug through a drip). But ofatumumab is the first drug of this kind that you can treat yourself with at home. A trained person such as a nurse will teach you how to use the injector pen.
How well does ofatumumab work?
Two trials compared ofatumumab to a drug already used to treat MS called teriflumonide (brand name Aubagio). Ofatumumab was significantly better than teriflunomide at reducing how many relapses people got. It was also better at reducing how many lesions doctors could see on MRI scans.
Relapses dropped by: 51-59% compared to teriflunomide.
This means that in the trials, over two and a half years, on average people saw a drop of 51-59% in the number of relapses they had. This was compared to people who took teriflunomide.
Disability getting worse was slowed down by up to 34% compared to teriflunomide.
This means that in the two trials, on average, people saw a drop of up to 34% in the risk of their disability getting worse. This was compared to people who took teriflunomide.
What are the side effects of ofatumumab?
After injecting the drug, around one in five people get a reaction such as headache or flushing (going red). Around one in ten have a reaction in the skin for a couple of days where they inject. This happens mostly the first time that people inject.
In the trials more than one in ten people got colds, chest infections, bladder and other urinary tract infections, or headaches. This was similar to what people got who took teriflunomide.