Ocrelizumab: First treatment licensed for some people with primary progressive MS in the UK

Published date: 10 Nov 2017 at 2:00PM

Ocrelizumab has been recommended as a treatment for people with early primary progressive MS in the UK.

It's the first licensed treatment for primary progressive MS in the UK. The recommendation was made by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) today. The European Commission will now make a final decision on the licence within the next 3 months.

The conditions of the licence mean ocrelizumab (drug name Ocrevus) can only be prescribed for people with early primary progressive MS, according to 

  • how long they've lived with MS symptoms,
  • their level of disability
  • if they have MRI results characteristic of inflammatory activity

We're waiting for more information from the EMA about the exact criteria.

Ocrelizumab has also been licensed for people with relapsing MS.

What’s the evidence?

In the latest trials, ocrelizumab slowed progression in primary progressive MS compared to a placebo (dummy) drug. It also reduced relapses and MRI activity and slowed progression in relapsing MS compared to beta interferons.

>> Read more about ocrelizumab

When will ocrelizumab be available on the NHS?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will now decide whether ocrelizumab should be available on the NHS in England and Wales. Northern Ireland will decide whether or not to adopt the NICE decision shortly afterwards.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) will decide whether ocrelizumab should be available on the NHS in Scotland.

We hope these decisions will be made by the end of 2018.

'A significant day'

Genevieve Edwards, our Director of External Affairs, said:“This is a significant day for people with primary progressive MS who have been waiting decades for an effective treatment. We will work with bodies across the UK to make ocrelizumab available through the NHS as soon as possible.

'Unfortunately however, the EMA didn't find sufficient evidence that this medicine could help all people with primary progressive MS, and we still urgently need effective treatments for all forms of the condition. The majority of people with progressive MS still have no options at all, and will no doubt be very frustrated with the limitations of this licence. 

'We hope sufficient evidence can be found to broaden the licence in Europe in the future. Because everyone with MS deserves access to a medicine to help them manage this unpredictable condition. We’re still not where we need to be, which is why we’re driving continued research into more and better treatments.”’

Help us make our case to NICE

We’ll be telling NICE why people with both primary progressive and relapsing MS should be able to access ocrelizumab through the NHS.

We want to hear from people who'd like to take ocrelizumab, to support our submission to NICE.

Do you have relapsing MS and think you’d benefit from taking it?

Or, if you have primary progressive MS, can you help us tell NICE what it’s like to live with, and why the first treatment option matters to you?

>> Email us to tell us why

Read more

Page last updated: 10 Nov 2017

The next research breakthrough is within reach

Donate now

What's new?