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Investigation launched after Ocrevus patient develops rare brain infection (26/05/17)

It has been reported by Reuters, that Roche, the maker of Ocrevus, is investigating a case of patient illness after taking its drug.

The patient, who lives in Germany, was treated with the MS drug and has been diagnosed with a serious brain infection called Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML). The infection occurred after the patient switched from Biogen drug, Tysabri, which they had been taking for three years prior to the switch.

Ocrevus is a recently approved MS drug in the United States, but it is not currently available in the UK. It is, however, reportedly being looked at by the European Medicines Agency.
Roche said the infection was reported, by the patients physician, as a carry-over from Tysabri, also known as natalizumab.

According to SRN News, Biogen released a statement in which it has not acknowledged the possible connection to the case.

“Biogen is aware that a patient taking Ocrevus has been diagnosed with PML, and we are currently assessing the information to confirm the reported PML,” Biogen spokesman, Matt Fearer said in a statement.

He added that there are many unknowns around the safety of long-lasting drugs of this type “including occurrence and management of opportunistic infections.”

Roche expressed that patient safety is of the highest priority and it “will continue to share information with healthcare providers and global health authorities” as it discovers more information.

There are a number of reported cases of patients undergoing Tysabri treatment developing PML. In most cases patients who test positive for John Cunningham virus are more at risk of developing the infection. The virus is normally harmless, but it seems to effect MS patients who have a weakened immune system. 

Tysabri was temporarily pulled from shelves a decade ago because of the risk of developing PML, but it returned, with restrictions to its use, when patients who had seen improvements in their condition demanded access to the drug.

Source: MS-UK (26/05/17)