TWIN FALLS Over 30 years, Judy Fisher has been left with very few options for treating her multiple sclerosis.
But for the Twin Falls resident, who has the primary progressive form of the disease, theres finally an approved medication she can try.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Ocrevus in March after a large study found it slowed progression of the neurological disease and reduced symptoms. Its approved for both patients who have relapsing and primary progressive forms of MS.
This medicine is really promising, Fisher said.
Its the first FDA-approved medication shown to be effective in treating primary progressive MS. But for months, Magic Valley residents whove wanted to try the new treatment which is delivered intravenously have been forced to travel elsewhere.
Every time theres a new drug on the market, health systems decide whether to add it to its formulary, and that determines whether it will be available to patients.
Dr. John Steffens, a neurologist at St. Lukes Magic Valley Medical Center, told the Times-News on Thursday he received confirmation Ocrevus will be offered at St. Lukes infusion centers soon.
He has about a dozen MS patients who are receiving the new treatment. Most of them have primary progressive MS, but a few have relapsing form of the disease and havent seen results with other medications.
Theyve been traveling to other health care facilities such as Cassia Regional Hospital, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello and University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Since 1993, 14 drugs have been approved to slow the most common form of MS, but everything tested against primary progressive MS failed until now. An estimated 15 percent of MS patients have the primary progressive form of the disease, Steffens said.
In primary progressive MS, the diseases course varies among patients, but symptoms gradually worsen from the start and there usually are no periods when symptoms subside.
Symptoms are caused by the immune system attacking the fatty coverings on nerves in the brain and spinal cord that protect them, much like insulation on electrical wiring.
As the coverings deteriorate, nerve messages arent properly transmitted, disrupting movement and muscle control.
For years for people who have primary progressive MS, doctors were left to treat symptoms and cross their fingers hoping a new medication would be developed, Steffens said.
Hed also have patients try other MS medications to see if theyd work, but they often didnt.
Fisher was diagnosed with MS in 1988 when she was in her 30s. Now shes 63.
Ive been lucky, she said. I havent progressed fast at all.
The only prescription medication shes taking is a water pill. Weakness in her right side due to MS, she said, hasnt gotten much worse over the years.
Seven years ago, she underwent stem cell treatment in Germany and saw excellent results. For three months, I was darn near perfect, Fisher said. Im still reaping the benefits from it.
But many of the symptoms have returned, she said. I would give anything to do stem cell again, but its too expensive.
At an appointment with Steffens her neurologist a couple of months ago, Fisher expressed interest in Ocrevus.
But it just came out, Fisher said. He said he had like three or four patients now doing it. I am waiting to see what goes on with them.
Will she try Ocrevus? If theres any way I can afford it, you bet I am, Fisher said. Her next neurology appointment isnt until November.
Active in the local MS community, especially with fundraising walks, Fisher said theres a lot she doesnt know about Ocrevus, but she has read about it.
This is big for that type of MS, she said. It has helped even mobility on people and that is what I would be looking for.
Compared to study participants getting dummy infusions, patients given Ocrevus infusions had slower declines in walking ability and slower disability progression over nearly 2 years.
The Ocrevus group also had fewer new brain-damaging lesions develop but slightly higher rates of certain side effects, including upper respiratory tract infections and tumors developing in various parts of the body.
Ocrevus is given intravenously every six months. It takes about half a day to receive treatment, Steffens said. Its a really logistically simple drug to give.
The medication also seems to be well tolerated among patients, he said, and has the fewest side effect warnings among any MS drugs he has encountered.
During a recent follow-up appointment with Steffens first patient who has received treatment, the person is walking better now than in three years, he said.
But he doesnt know if thats a placebo effect or if that will be a sustained benefit.
And the bad news for MS patients, Steffens said: We still have no cure for any form of the disease.
One common dilemma for MS patients can be figuring out how to pay for often-costly treatment.
Ocrevus was developed by Genentech, part of Swiss drugmaker the Roche Group. Genentech, based in South San Francisco, Calif., has said the initial list price without insurance is $65,000 a year.
So far, Steffens hasnt heard of any of his patients having problems getting the treatment covered by insurance.
And with patient assistance programs factored in, too, co-pays are typically less than $100, he said.
We were expecting huge, huge pushback from insurance companies, he said, but that hasnt been the case.
After years of waiting, it means more local MS patients may be able to finally get the help theyve been looking for.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
- In situ repair abilities of human umbilical cordderived mesenchymal stem cells and autocrosslinked hyaluronic acid gel complex in rhesus monkeys with... - May 23rd, 2020
- UH studying use of convalescent plasma to improve health of COVID-19 patients - Crain's Cleveland Business - May 23rd, 2020
- COVID-19: Recommendations for Treating MS and Related... : Neurology Today - LWW Journals - May 21st, 2020
- New hybrid embryos are the most thorough mixing of humans and mice yet - Science News - May 20th, 2020
- Hotel in Spain requires two negative Covid-19 tests to check in with a free antibody test during your stay - CNBC - May 20th, 2020
- 'Outpatient Is Still Chaos': What We Heard This Week - MedPage Today - May 20th, 2020
- Sumit Dewanjee, MD, is being recognized by Continental Who's Who - PRNewswire - May 7th, 2020
- Results From Pivotal Phase 2/3 Study of Emapalumab in Patients With Primary HLH Published in New England Journal of Medicine - BioSpace - May 7th, 2020
- COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Analysis | Global Cell Isolation Market 2020-2024 | Evolving Opportunities with Agilent Technologies Inc. and Becton,... - May 7th, 2020
- Stem Cell Alopecia Treatment Market Detailed Analysis of Current Industry Figures With Forecasts Growth by 2026 - 3rd Watch News - May 7th, 2020
- AMC to use stem cell therapy in treating graft-versus-host disease - Korea Biomedical Review - May 7th, 2020
- Drumming class finds a new rhythm with creative connections - Yes! Weekly - May 7th, 2020
- Drumming class finds a new rhythm with creative connections - Wake Forest University News Center - May 5th, 2020
- Insights on the Worldwide Cell Expansion Industry to 2027 - Analysis and Forecasts - Yahoo Finance UK - May 5th, 2020
- These 5 Houston-area research institutions have bright minds at work to battle COVID-19 - InnovationMap - May 5th, 2020
- GCC Condemns Israeli Plans to Annex Parts of the West Bank - Asharq Al-awsat English - May 2nd, 2020
- Jerusalem residents concerned Israel is changing their residency rights - Arabnews - May 2nd, 2020
- Four UTSW Researchers Named to The National Academy of Sciences - D Magazine - May 1st, 2020
- CHMP Grants Positive Opinion for DARZALEX (daratumumab) Subcutaneous Formulation for the Treatment of Patients with Multiple Myeloma - Yahoo Finance - May 1st, 2020
- Verify the URL - InnovationMap - May 1st, 2020
- Houston banking exec shares tips for keeping online information secure amid COVID-19 threats - InnovationMap - May 1st, 2020
- Trials and Tribulations: Neurology Research During COVID-19 - Medscape - April 30th, 2020
- Into the Lungs and Beyond - Harvard Medical School - April 30th, 2020
- Five UC San Diego Professors Elected to National Academy of Sciences - UC San Diego Health - April 29th, 2020
- Suffering from ED? Discover how our combined treatments of Hormone Balancing and FDA Approved Acoustic Wave Pulse Therapy Ends Your ED - Magazine of... - April 29th, 2020
- BrainStorm-Cell Therapeutics to Announce First Quarter Financial Results and Provide a Corporate UpdateThursday, May 7, 2020, 8:30 am EDT - BioSpace - April 29th, 2020
- What Is The Economic Value of Receiving CAR T-Cell Therapy in an Outpatient Setting? - AJMC.com Managed Markets Network - April 24th, 2020
- Healing the heart by returning it to its infancy - FierceBiotech - April 24th, 2020
- What Factors Influence Hematological Recovery in Patients Who Receive CAR-T Therapies? - Cancer Therapy Advisor - April 24th, 2020
- Academy adds new members from UW who 'expand the boundaries of knowledge' - University of Wisconsin-Madison - April 24th, 2020
- FDA Approves New Therapy for Triple Negative Breast Cancer That Has Spread, Not Responded to Other Treatments - FDA.gov - April 24th, 2020
- A rampage through the body - Science Magazine - April 24th, 2020
- Israeli COVID-19 treatment with 100% survival rate tested on US patient - The Jerusalem Post - April 21st, 2020
- Stem Cell Therapy: A Promising Treatment for COVID-19? - Technology Networks - April 21st, 2020
- Meet the 5 female finalists for the 2020 M&T Bank John Travers Award - PennLive - April 21st, 2020
- Hackensack Meridian Health Studying the Blood of COVID-19 Survivors - The Ritz Herald - April 15th, 2020
- Reviewing the Latest Treatment Strategies in Patients with Transplant-Eligible Multiple Myeloma - Hematology Advisor - April 9th, 2020
- Autologous Stem Cell and Non-Stem Cell Based Therapies Market Industry Trends and Forecast to 2026 | Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, Cytori... - April 9th, 2020
- Canadian Company STEMCELL Technologies Is an Essential Industry Partner for COVID-19 Research and Vaccine Development - Business Wire - April 9th, 2020
- 3 drug candidates authorized to treat COVID-19 patients - Korea Biomedical Review - April 7th, 2020
- Surgeon offers innovative treatments - Brunswick News - April 7th, 2020
- Health Tech: Dallas-based American Heart Association Awards $14M in Research Grants for Heart, Brain, and COVID-19 Innovation - dallasinnovates.com - April 7th, 2020
- Metrion Biosciences and International Scientific Consortium Publish Data and New Recommendations for in Vitro Risk Assessment of the Cardiac Safety of... - April 7th, 2020
- YOUR HEALTH: Something fishy to help improve eyesight - WQAD.com - April 6th, 2020
- First Two Patients Enrolled in Randomized Phase 2, COVID-19 Trial with Leronlimab; Five More Severely Ill COVID-19 Patients Treated Under Emergency... - April 6th, 2020
- Yiviva Announces Dosing of First Patient in Phase 2b Study of First-Line YIV-906 Plus Sorafenib Combination Therapy in the Treatment of Hepatocellular... - April 6th, 2020
- Coronavirus Business Tracker: How The Private Sector Is Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic - Forbes - April 6th, 2020
- Treatment with CytoDyn's Leronlimab Indicates Significant Trend Toward Immunological Restoration in Severely Ill COVID-19 Patients - Associated Press - April 6th, 2020
- Coronavirus daily news update, April 6: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the nation - Seattle Times - April 6th, 2020
- Celularity and Infectious Disease Research Institute will try out COVID-19 cell therapy - GeekWire - April 3rd, 2020
- Pinprick Blood Test To Identify Antibodies In Patients Approved By FDA - Kaiser Health News - April 3rd, 2020
- CytoDyn CEO Dr. Pourhassan to Appear on Fox Business Network Friday, April 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm ET to Discuss Leronlimab Treatment of 10 Severely Ill... - April 3rd, 2020
- Is There a New CAR T-Cell Treatment for Mantle Cell Lymphoma? - AJMC.com Managed Markets Network - April 3rd, 2020
- North Jersey hitting the surge - Politico - April 3rd, 2020
- PharmAbcine Announces Acceptance of Phase Ib Olinvacimab and Pembrolizuamb Combination Trial in rGBM Patients Abstract at the 2020 ASCO Annual Meeting... - April 3rd, 2020
- A word for those risking their lives amid the coronavirus crisis: Thanks - TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press - April 3rd, 2020
- AML Relapse: How IDH-Inhibitor Drugs Work To Achieve Remission Before Stem-Cell Transplant - SurvivorNet - April 2nd, 2020
- Three Additional Patients with Severe COVID-19 Treated with Leronlimab in New York Medical Center Bringing the Total to 10 Patients - Associated Press - March 31st, 2020
- 2020 Canada Gairdner Awards Recognize World-renowned Scientists for Transformative Contributions to Research That Impact Human Health - Benzinga - March 31st, 2020
- Sales Revenue of Scaffold Technology Market to Escalate in the Coming Years Owing to Rapid Growth in Consumer Adoption 2017 2025 - Lake Shore Gazette - March 31st, 2020
- San Diego Angel Conference Announces Investment of $400,000 in 3 Companies - Times of San Diego - March 31st, 2020
- About Stem Cell Center - March 28th, 2020
- From Bats to Human Lungs, the Evolution of a Coronavirus - The New Yorker - March 28th, 2020
- Leronlimab Used in Seven Patients with Severe COVID-19 Demonstrated Promise with Two Intubated Patients in ICU, Removed from ICU and Extubated with... - March 28th, 2020
- Live Updates: Coronavirus in the Bay Area: Phony Health 'Inspectors' Knocking on Doors -- Don't Let Them In - KQED - March 28th, 2020
- Veterans in Pain helps ease the pain for veterans - Tullahoma News and Guardian - March 25th, 2020
- Disruptions in Cancer Care in the Era of COVID-19 - Medscape - March 21st, 2020
- In vivo Comparison of the Biodistribution and Toxicity of InP/ZnS Quan | IJN - Dove Medical Press - March 21st, 2020
- A new therapeutic approach against COVID-19 Pneumonia - Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies - March 15th, 2020
- Toxicity minimal with novel transplantation approach for transfusion-dependent thalassemia - Healio - March 12th, 2020
- OncMadness: Meet the Blue Ribbon Panel - MedPage Today - March 12th, 2020
- Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation Celebrates 20 Years with Upcoming Annual Gala - Island Free Press - March 12th, 2020
- Scientists Grapple with US Restrictions on Fetal Tissue Research - The Scientist - March 2nd, 2020
- CAR T Cells to Go? Outpatient Therapy Can Be Safe - Medscape - February 28th, 2020
- TO YOUR HEALTH: Inflammation can drive triple-negative breast cancer - Dover Post - February 28th, 2020
- Impact of TP53 Mutation Clearance Prior to Allo-SCT - MedPage Today - February 28th, 2020
- Arctic Medical Center: Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell ... - February 27th, 2020
- New study identifies trigger that turns dormant cancer stem cells into active ones - Benzinga - February 27th, 2020
- Bringing Transplant to More Patients With AML - MedPage Today - February 27th, 2020
- UCLA raises $5.49 billion in one of most ambitious campaigns ever by a public university - UCLA Newsroom - February 27th, 2020