The FDA has approved a new drug to treat people living with multiple sclerosis, a chronic auto-immune disorder that causes a patient’s own system to attack his or her brain and spinal cord. The drug is not a cure, but the treatment will allow some patients to live virtually symptom-free for the first time in years.
For 25 years, Pamela Arterbridge has been building her salon business, one customer at a time.
“I have a dedicated clientele and I never wanted to let them down,” Arterbridge said.
But four years ago, she began feeling exhausted and then some symptoms she couldn’t ignore.
“I woke up one morning and all of my toes were numb and tingling and it felt like I had rocks in my shoes,” described Arterbridge.
She had multiple sclerosis.
Arterbridge detailed, “I have a lesion on my spine, and I have three on my brain.”
Michael Racke, M.D., a neurologist at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, is an expert in MS. He is one of a nationwide team of researchers studying the effects of ocrelizumab.
Dr. Racke said, “Almost half the patients had no evidence of disease activity in terms of their MS. That’s much higher than we’ve seen with any other MS treatment.”
Ocrelizumab is also the first drug ever available for the primary, progressive form of the disease, about 15 percent of MS patients. The drug is given to all MS patients as an infusion.
“Patients receive it every six months, certainly a little bit more convenient than a monthly infusion or injection,” detailed Dr. Racke.
Arterbridge was on the drug for about a year as part of the clinical trial. She said it’s made all the difference.
Arterbridge said, “I haven’t had the brain fog. I haven’t had any slurred speech. I’m confident that I’ll still be able to stand and do what I love to do.”
Ocrelizumab is considered a first-in-class treatment, specifically targeting the B cells, or immune cells that play a large part in the disease.