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Monday, Dec 14, 2020

FDA Approves Genentech’s Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) Shorter 2-Hour Infusion for Relapsing and Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Approval based on data from the randomized, double-blind ENSEMBLE PLUS study, showing consistent safety to the conventional Ocrevus dosing regimen

Shorter infusion time will further improve the twice-yearly treatment experience for Ocrevus, the only B-cell therapy for relapsing and primary progressive MS with a twice-yearly dosing schedule

South San Francisco, CA -- December 14, 2020 --

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a shorter two-hour infusion time for Ocrevus® (ocrelizumab), dosed twice-yearly for those living with relapsing or primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) who have not experienced any prior serious infusion reactions (IRs). The approval was based on data from the randomized, double-blind ENSEMBLE PLUS study.

“More than 170,000 people with MS have been treated with Ocrevus – the only approved B-cell therapy with a twice-yearly dosing schedule – and it is the most prescribed MS medicine in the U.S.,” said Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “We constantly strive to improve the experience that patients and their physicians have with our medicines, and we believe people with relapsing and primary progressive MS will find the shorter two-hour Ocrevus infusion time to be more convenient.”

The ENSEMBLE PLUS study showed similar frequency and severity of IRs for a two-hour Ocrevus infusion time vs. the previously approved 3.5-hour time in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). The first dose was administered per the approved dosing schedule (two 300 mg intravenous [IV] infusions separated by two weeks) and the second or later doses (600 mg IV infusion) were administered over a shorter, two-hour time.

The primary endpoint of this study was the proportion of patients with IR s following the first randomized 600 mg infusion (frequency/severity assessed during and 24-hours post infusion). The frequency of IR s was comparable between those who received the two-hour infusion (24.6%) and those who received the 3.5-hour infusion (23.1%). The majority of IR s were mild or moderate, and more than 98% resolved in both groups without complication. No IR s were life-threatening, serious or fatal. No patients discontinued the study due to an IR and no new safety signals were detected.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the two-hour infusion time in May of 2020 based on a positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP).

Ocrevus has twice-yearly (six-monthly) dosing and is the first and only therapy approved for relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS) (including RRMS and active, or relapsing, secondary progressive MS [SPMS], in addition to clinically isolated syndrome [CIS] in the U.S.) and primary progressive MS (PPMS). Ocrevus is approved in 94 countries across North America, South America, the Middle East, Europe, as well as in Australia.

About multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects nearly one million people in the United States, for which there is currently no cure. MS occurs when the immune system abnormally attacks the insulation and support around nerve cells (myelin sheath) in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, causing inflammation and consequent damage. This damage can cause a wide range of symptoms, including muscle weakness, fatigue and difficulty seeing, and may eventually lead to disability. Most people with MS experience their first symptom between 20 and 40 years of age, making the disease the leading cause of non-traumatic disability in younger adults.

Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common form of the disease and is characterized by episodes of new or worsening signs or symptoms (relapses) followed by periods of recovery. Approximately 85 percent of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS. The majority of people who are diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to secondary progressive MS (SPMS), in which they experience steadily worsening disability over time. Relapsing forms of MS (RMS) include people with RRMS and people with SPMS who continue to experience relapses. Primary progressive MS (PPMS) is a debilitating form of the disease marked by steadily worsening symptoms but typically without distinct relapses or periods of remission. Approximately 15 percent of people with MS are diagnosed with the primary progressive form of the disease. Until the FDA approval of Ocrevus, there had been no FDA approved treatments for PPMS.

People with all forms of MS experience disease activity – inflammation in the nervous system and permanent loss of nerve cells in the brain – even when their clinical symptoms aren’t apparent or don’t appear to be getting worse. An important goal of treating MS is to reduce disease activity as soon as possible to slow how quickly a person’s disability progresses. Despite available disease-modifying treatments (DMTs), some people with RMS continue to experience disease activity and disability progression.

About Ocrevus ® (ocrelizumab)
Ocrevus is the first and only therapy approved for both RMS (including clinically isolated syndrome, RRMS and active, or relapsing, SPMS) and PPMS, with dosing every six months. Ocrevus is a humanized monoclonal antibody designed to target CD20-positive B cells, a specific type of immune cell thought to be a key contributor to myelin (nerve cell insulation and support) and axonal (nerve cell) damage. This nerve cell damage can lead to disability in people with MS. Based on preclinical studies, Ocrevus binds to CD20 cell surface proteins expressed on certain B cells, but not on stem cells or plasma cells, suggesting that important functions of the immune system may be preserved.

Ocrevus is administered by intravenous infusion every six months. The initial dose is given as two 300 mg infusions given two weeks apart. Subsequent doses are given as single 600 mg infusions.

Indications and Important Safety Information
What is Ocrevus?
Ocrevus is a prescription medicine used to treat:

  • Relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults
  • Primary progressive MS, in adults.

It is not known if Ocrevus is safe or effective in children.

Who should not receive Ocrevus?
Do not receive Ocrevus if you have an active hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.

Do not receive Ocrevus if you have had a life threatening allergic reaction to Ocrevus. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had an allergic reaction to Ocrevus or any of its ingredients in the past.

What is the most important information I should know about Ocrevus?
Ocrevus can cause serious side effects, including:

  • Infusion reactions: Infusion reactions are a common side effect of Ocrevus, which can be serious and may require you to be hospitalized.You will be monitored during your infusion and for at least 1 hour after each infusion of Ocrevus for signs and symptoms of an infusion reaction. Tell your healthcare provider or nurse if you get any of these symptoms:

o itchy skin

o trouble breathing

o nausea

o shortness of breath

o rash

o throat irritation or pain

o headache

o fatigue

o hives

o feeling faint

o swelling of the throat

o fast heart beat

o tiredness

o fever

o dizziness


o coughing or wheezing

o redness on your face (flushing)



These infusion reactions can happen for up to 24 hours after your infusion . It is important that you call your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the signs or symptoms listed above after each infusion.

If you get infusion reactions, your healthcare provider may need to stop or slow down the rate of your infusion.

  • Infection:
  • Ocrevus increases your risk of getting upper respiratory tract infections, lower respiratory tract infections, skin infections, and herpes infections. Infections are a common side effect, which can be serious. Tell your healthcare provider if you have an infection or have any of the following signs of infection including fever, chills, or a cough that does not go away. Signs of herpes include cold sores, shingles, genital sores, skin rash, pain, and itching. Signs of more serious herpes infection include: changes in vision, eye redness or eye pain, severe or persistent headache, stiff neck, and confusion. Signs of infection can happen during treatment or after you have received your last dose of Ocrevus. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have an infection. Your healthcare provider should delay your treatment with Ocrevus until your infection is gone.
  • Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML): Although no cases have been seen with Ocrevus treatment in clinical trials, PML may happen with Ocrevus. PML is a rare brain infection that usually leads to death or severe disability. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new or worsening neurologic signs or symptoms. These may include problems with thinking, balance, eyesight, weakness on 1 side of your body, strength, or using your arms or legs.
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation: Before starting treatment with Ocrevus, your healthcare provider will do blood tests to check for hepatitis B viral infection. If you have ever had hepatitis B virus infection, the hepatitis B virus may become active again during or after treatment with Ocrevus. Hepatitis B virus becoming active again (called reactivation) may cause serious liver problems including liver failure or death. Your healthcare provider will monitor you if you are at risk for hepatitis B virus reactivation during treatment and after you stop receiving Ocrevus.
  • Weakened immune system: Ocrevus taken before or after other medicines that weaken the immune system could increase your risk of getting infections.
  • Decreased Immunoglobulins: Ocrevus may cause a decrease in some types of immunoglobulins. Your healthcare provider will do blood tests to check your blood immunoglobulin levels.

Before receiving Ocrevus, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

  • have ever taken, take, or plan to take medicines that affect your immune system, or other treatments for MS.
  • have ever had hepatitis B or are a carrier of the hepatitis B virus.
  • have had a recent vaccination or are scheduled to receive any vaccinations.
    • You should receive any required ‘live’ or ‘live-attenuated’ vaccines at least 4 weeks before you start treatment with Ocrevus . You should not receive ‘live’ or ‘live-attenuated’ vaccines while you are being treated with Ocrevus and until your healthcare provider tells you that your immune system is no longer weakened.
    • When possible, you should receive any ‘non-live’ vaccines at least 2 weeks before you start treatment with Ocrevus. If you would like to receive any non-live (inactivated) vaccines, including the seasonal flu vaccine, while you are being treated with Ocrevus, talk to your healthcare provider.
    • "If you have a baby and you received Ocrevus during your pregnancy, it is important to tell your baby’s healthcare provider about receiving Ocrevus so they can decide when your baby should be vaccinated."
  • are pregnant, think that you might be pregnant, or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Ocrevus will harm your unborn baby. You should use birth control (contraception) during treatment with Ocrevus and for 6 months after your last infusion of Ocrevus. Talk with your healthcare provider about what birth control method is right for you during this time.
    • Pregnancy Registry. There is a pregnancy registry for women who take Ocrevus during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while receiving Ocrevus, tell your healthcare provider right away. Talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the Ocrevus Pregnancy Registry. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about your health and your baby’s health. Your healthcare provider can enroll you in this registry by calling 1-833-872-4370 or visiting http://www.ocrevuspregnancyregistry.com .
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Ocrevus passes into your breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby if you take Ocrevus.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

What are the possible side effects of Ocrevus?
Ocrevus may cause serious side effects, including:

  • Risk of cancers (malignancies) including breast cancer. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about standard screening guidelines for breast cancer.

These are not all the possible side effects of Ocrevus.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, go to http://www.Ocrevus.com or call 1-844-627-3887.

For additional safety information, please see the full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide.

About Genentech in neuroscience
Neuroscience is a major focus of research and development at Genentech and Roche. Our goal is to pursue groundbreaking science to develop new treatments that help improve the lives of people with chronic and potentially devastating diseases.

Genentech and Roche are investigating more than a dozen medicines for neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and autism spectrum disorder. Together with our partners, we are committed to pushing the boundaries of scientific understanding to solve some of the most difficult challenges in neuroscience today.

About Genentech
Founded more than 40 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious and life-threatening medical conditions. The company, a member of the Roche Group, has headquarters in South San Francisco, California. For additional information about the company, please visit http://www.gene.com.

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