First In The Country: OhioHealth Infuses New FDA Approved MS Drug
Early April Infusions Followed By Weeks Of Treatment For Hopeful Patients
This bag of golden liquid is better than liquid gold to Curtis Hendricks.
It’s Ocrevus, a promising new drug for multiple sclerosis. At OhioHealth’s M-S Infusion Clinic, each drop means hope for Curtis.
“I woke up one morning and I had this intense, sharp pain in my left eye, and there was a lot of blurry spots and it hurt to move it,” Curtis Hendricks, OhioHealth MS patient said.
The diagnosis was an often-disabling illness - multiple sclerosis, or M-S. Curtis found out the same week he learned he was going to be a father.
“Am I going to be able to walk my daughter down the aisle, or even be able to do things with my son that people who don’t have MS wouldn’t even think about?” Hendricks said.
Dr. Geoffrey Eubank is chief of general neurology at OhioHealth. He says in M-S, the immune system goes haywire.
“MS can be a devastating disease," Dr. Eubank said. “That part of us that is getting attacked by our immune system is our brain and spinal cord.”
There are two forms. In the more common, ‘relapsing-remitting’ form, the disease flares up, then eases. In ‘primary-progressive’, it only gets worse.
OhioHealth Neurologist Jacqueline Nicholas says treatments for relapsing-remitting often have severe side effects. And until now, there’s been no treatment for primary-progressive.
“We’ve been able to manage their symptoms, but not able to stop the progression of their disease,” Dr. Nicholas said.
But for the first time, one drug with few side effects can treat both forms, by targeting just one type of cell.
“It interferes with the communication with the immune system, so that the immune system decides not to attack itself," Dr. Eubank said.
“It reduces risk of relapse, as compared to standard of care, by about 47 percent,” Dr. Nichoas said.
Curtis gave up on his last drug. Dr. Eubank suggested he try a twice-yearly infusion of Ocrevus instead. The hope is to cut the side effects and stop the damage.
“This is a drug we’ve been waiting for, for a very long time,' Dr. Nicholas said.