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The current status of Ocrevus (Ocrelizumab) in NZ

August 22, 2017 | Advocacy, Research, Treatments

Since the FDA in America approved Ocrevus (Ocrelizumab) in March 2017 as a treatment for RRMS and PPMS there has been a lot of interest in seeing this be made available in NZ. MSNZ has reviewed the positive research, been in discussions with the pharmaceutical company Roche and is actively advocating to PHARMAC for funding for both RRMS and PPMS.


What is the current status of Ocrevus in NZ?

In August 2016 Roche submitted Ocrevus for Medsafe approval which can take over 12 months in most cases. This is still under review and we hope to receive further information by October 2017

On 22nd May 2017 Roche applied to PHARMAC for Ocrelizumab to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule for RRMS under the pre-existing MS Treatments Special Authority Criteria for review at the August meeting. Despite not yet having Medsafe approval this decision was made to speed the process along and have the treatment available in NZ at the earliest opportunity.

MSNZ wrote a submission to PHARMAC in support of this application on Monday 22nd May. MSNZ have also made a submission to PHARMAC to expand the current Special Authority Criteria. See more on this here

PHARMAC have advised on the 9th June 2017 that the application will not be considered until Medsafe approval is confirmed. This is likely to be at PTAC’s February 2018 meeting if a positive Medsafe result is achieved by October 2017.

On the 22nd August Ocrevus for relapsing remitting MS became a funded option in Australia.

Read our submission here


Ocrelizumab for Primary Progressive

There has been a lot of media interest since Ocrelizumab was approved by the FDA as it is the first treatment in the world that has shown proven benefits for people with primary progressive MS.

Should Ocrevus for PPMS be funded in NZ it will have its own special authority criteria developed. Roche has consulted with MSNZ and an Advisory Board around the potential criteria. We foresee that there will be special authority criteria based on the research findings. Roche is currently working on the application for funding for Ocrelizumab.

MSNZ is continuing to work with those involved to ensure people receive access based on the research evidence and will make a submission to PHARMAC for funding for PPMS as well as RRMS.


Ocrevus Global Compassionate Programme

MSNZ has been advised that there is a compassionate use programme for Ocrevus currently open for those with PPMS. There are a limited number of places available. It is important to note that the Global Compassionate Programme is only open in NZ until the treatment is registered by Medsafe.

PwMS cannot self-register as this must be done by a neurologist based on their recommendation that the treatment will provide clinical benefit. PwMS who are successfully registered on the programme will continue to receive fully funded access to Ocrevus until either:

  1. PHARMAC agree to fund the treatment in NZ for PPMS, or if funding does not happen;
  2. until the patient chooses to discontinue or it is not clinically appropriate any longer on the advice of their neurologist

For more information about the Compassionate Programme criteria and how to apply visit our Ocrevus page


How can you help our advocacy work?

MSNZ would be interested in speaking to people who join the Compassionate Programme. If you are successfully registered onto the Programme and would like to update us on your progress please contact info@msnz.websitereview.nz.

Provide feedback to MSNZ about the impacts of our advocacy to help demonstrate the positive outcomes of our work. Information we are interested may include but is not limited to: What has accessing treatments meant to you? How has it improved your life?

MSNZ is also interested to understand the issues impacting and restricting access to services and treatments.