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Case of PML Reported in Person Receiving Ocrevus to Treat MS

May 25, 2017

Reports have emerged indicating that a person with MS taking Ocrevus (ocrelizumab, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group) has developed PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a rare viral infection of the brain that often leads to death or severe disability). The company has confirmed that this person had received one dose of Ocrevus, and had previously taken Tysabri (natalizumab, Biogen) for several years. No additional information about the individual’s condition has been released.
PML is caused by the re-activation of a virus called the JC (John Cunningham) virus, a common virus to which many people have been exposed. PML has emerged in people using other MS therapies, most notably Tysabri, but it has also occurred in people taking Gilenya (fingolimod, Novartis AG) and Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate, Biogen).

This is the first reported case of PML in someone taking Ocrevus. Because PML has occurred in people taking therapies similar to Ocrevus, this therapy’s prescribing information and medication guide contain a warning regarding the possible occurrence of PML. 
Symptoms of PML are diverse and can be similar to MS symptoms. For this reason individuals should be alert to any new or worsening symptoms and report them promptly to their MS healthcare provider. Learn more about the risk factors and symptoms of PML from the web site of The PML Consortium.

Individuals who have concerns about this report should discuss it with their MS healthcare providers.

If and when there is additional information or recommendations for people taking Ocrevus or other MS medications, the National MS Society will share it as soon as possible.
Ocrevus is a trademark of Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.
Gilenya is a registered trademark of Novartis AG.
Tysabri is a registered trademark of Biogen.
Tecfidera is a registered trademark of Biogen.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.