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Roche's Ocrevus may delay need for wheelchair in multiple sclerosis patients

Roche Holding AG said its drug Ocrevus may delay the need for a wheelchair for patients with a type of multiple sclerosis — a central nervous system disease.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, or one in which patient's immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake. MS causes differing symptoms for patients, ranging from limb numbness and weakness to tingling and tremors.

An exploratory analysis of a phase 3 study of Ocrevus, dubbed Oratorio, showed that the drug can delay the time before needing a wheelchair by seven years for patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis — a form of the illness where symptoms steadily progress without any relapses.

The Basel, Switzerland-based drugmaker also plans two new phase 3b studies of Ocrevus in 2018 called Oratorio-Hand and Consonance. Oratorio-Hand will evaluate the drug in terms of arm, wrist and hand function, while Consonance will measure Ocrevus' long-term effectiveness.

Ocrevus is approved in over 60 countries, including the U.S. and the EU.