Dr Aimee Tharaldson Highlights Two Key Drugs for 2017

The first drug to treat primary progressive multiple sclerosis and a new drug approved for atopic dermatitis are the 2017 approvals most exciting to Aimee Tharaldson, PharmD, of Express Scripts.


What drugs expected to be approved in 2017 are most exciting to you?

You know it’s interesting, the 2 drugs that I think are going to be key this year, are expected to be approved today. Actually, one drug is Ocrevus. This is going to be the first drug approved to treat primary progression MS. It’s also in development for relapsing forms of MS. So it’s a biologic drug. It’s given every 6 months. In clinical trials for relapsing forms of MS, they compared it to Rebif, and it reduced relapse rates by about 40% compared to Rebif. They looked at it in primary progression MS and it reduced disability progression by about 25% compared to placebo. So it’s a very effective medication.

There is a safety signal to watch for in the primary progressive MS trial. It did cause tumors in 2.3% of patients, which is twice as much as the placebo group. So that will have to be monitored carefully. It may have a box warning concerning this risk.

But watch for Ocrevus today.

And another drug, which we were expecting to be approved tomorrow, just got approved about an hour or so ago: Dupixent, or dupilumab. So this is a biologic drug to treat patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, who aren’t well controlled on currently available topical therapies like glucocorticoids or calcineurin inhibitors, like Protopic or Elidel. So there’s 300,000 or more patients in the United States right now who could be candidates for treatment with Dupixent.

The manufacturer did release pricing. It’s going to be $37,000 per year. So this is a medication that’s going to be used chronically in these patients. Very effective medication. Can be used alone or in combination with topical glucocorticoids. So I don’t know exactly the launch date of that product, but I imagine it will reach the market pretty soon.

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