Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) for people with primary progressive multiple sclerosis

In 2018, the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany) looked into whether treatment with ocrelizumab (trade name: Ocrevus) in addition to best supportive care (BSC) has any advantages or disadvantages for people with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). The following results apply only to patients who have early-stage PPMS.

The manufacturer provided one study. All participants received best supportive care. On top of that, 486 people were given ocrelizumab, and 239 people took a placebo (dummy drug). The following results were found after about four years and four months:

What are the advantages of ocrelizumab?

  • Treatment with ocrelizumab was not found to have any advantages.

What are the disadvantages of ocrelizumab?

  • Side effects: The study suggests that ocrelizumab has a disadvantage here. During and shortly after the infusion with ocrelizumab, about 40 out of 100 people experienced side effects such as headaches, fever, nausea or shortness of breath. But this side effect also occurred in 26 out of 100 people who received a placebo.

No difference

  • Life expectancy: There was no difference in life expectancy. Five people passed away during the course of the study.
  • Serious side effects: There was no difference here: About 21 out of 100 people in each group had severe side effects.
  • Effects of the disease: There was also no difference in terms of physical limitations caused by the disease.
  • There was no difference between the treatments in terms of the following aspects either:
    • Treatment stopped due to side effects
    • Infections
    • Parasitic diseases

What remains unanswered?

  • The manufacturer did not provide any suitable data regarding the effect of the treatment on exhaustion, general overall health or health-related quality of life

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany). Ocrelizumab (multiple sclerosis) – Benefit assessment according to §35a Social Code Book V. Dossier assessment; Commission A18-06. April 27, 2018. (IQWiG reports; Volume 619).

IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. informedhealth.org can provide support for talks with doctors and other medical professionals, but cannot replace them. We do not offer individual consultations.

Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

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Created on May 17, 2018
Next planned update: 2021


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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