According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) is marked by deteriorating brain function. It often results in disability when patients begin to exhibit symptoms without any relapses or periods of remissions. Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis may also be classified as active or inactive at differing times. Furthermore, it can occur with or without progression.
Nearly 15% of all patients with multiple sclerosis have primary-progressive multiple sclerosis. Generally, patients with PPMS begin exhibiting symptoms when they are aged between 35-39. In additiona, men and women are at an equal risk of developing this type of multiple sclerosis.
Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that PPMS patients typically experience difficulty walking, which may interfere with their ability to carry out daily tasks or perform their jobs.
Common PPMS Symptoms
In addition to walking/gait issues, primary-progressive multiple sclerosis may bring on symptoms such as:
- Vision difficulties
- Muscle frailty
- Balance/coordination issues
- Numbing or tingling sensations
- A decline in mental clarity
- Mood swings and/or depression
- Poor sexual performance
- Bowel and bladder control problems
Up until recently, most multiple sclerosis treatment options could only address relapsing types of multiple sclerosis. However, the FDA has approved a new MS medication for primary-progressive multiple sclerosis called ocrelizumab (Ocrevus).
New MS Drug Ocrelizumab Multiple Sclerosis
In March 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the drug Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) the stamp of approval for its use as a treatment for MS. This includes both relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and primary progressive multiple sclerosis. With this approval, ocrelizumab became the first FDA-approved medication for the treatment of primary progressive MS. Ocrelizumab is administered intravenously by a medical professional.
The FDA reported that the use of ocrelizumab for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS was effective. Two consecutive clinical trials involving 1,656 patients for the duration of 96 weeks confirmed the claim. These two trials studied the effects of ocrelizumab in comparison with interferon beta-1a medication Rebif. During these trials, individuals on ocrelizumab saw a reduction in attack rates and disability deterioration compared to those on Rebif.
Warnings for the New MS Drug Ocrelizumab Multiple Sclerosis
Although ocrelizumab is a breakthrough for MS treatment, it is not recommended for use among individuals with hepatitis. Those who have experienced dangerously adverse side effects with ocrelizumab should also stop using it.
The side effects that ocrelizumab may cause include certain infusion reactions such as itching, irritation, rashes, reduced blood pressure, headaches, a fever, fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea, and trouble breathing. Also, ocrelizumab can heighten the risk for cancerous growths, especially breast tumours.
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