Roche Holding AG (RHHBY - Free Report) announced that an early treatment with its multiple sclerosis (“MS”) drug Ocrevus significantly reduced disability progression over five years in patients with relapsing MS (“RMS”) and primary progressive MS (“PPMS”). The new data will be presented at the European Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS), scheduled to be held in Berlin, Germany from Oct 10 to 12.
The five-year data from the phase III extension studies of OPERA I, OPERA II and ORATORIO showed that Ocrevus was effective on key measures of disease activity. Moreover, early initiation of treatment with Ocrevus resulted in superior disability progression outcomes as compared to RMS patients who shifted from interferon beta-1α or PPMS patients who switched from placebo.
In patients with PPMS, early treatment with Ocrevus led to reduced disability and upper limb progression compared to patients who switched from placebo.
The phase III ORATORIO study showed that patients who were continuously treated with Ocrevus three to five years earlier experienced lower disability progression and upper limb disability progression compared to those who shifted from placebo at 24 weeks.
Notably, additional data from the phase IIIb CHORDS study will also be presented. The study is evaluating Ocrevus in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), having suboptimal response at six months of treatment with other disease-modifying therapy.
The longer-term efficacy and safety data are consistent with the drug’s favorable benefit-risk profile, for both PPMS and RMS.
Shares of Roche have lost 2.8% so far this year, against the industry’s increase of 7%.
While the MS market holds immense potential, competition is stiff with the likes of Biogen, Inc. (BIIB - Free Report) .
Meanwhile, approval of new drugs and a potential label expansion of existing drugs bode well for Roche as its legacy drugs like Avastin, Herceptin and MabThera are facing competition from biosimilars. Novartis (NVS - Free Report) has already launched its biosimilar version of Rituxan/ MabThera in Europe. Amgen (AMGN - Free Report) too has got its biosimilar of Avastin.
Roche currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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