Quick Hits: FDA Approves New Drugs for Multiple Sclerosis, Eczema and Warning About Heart Drug

The FDA approved Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) as the first-ever drug to treat primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), a serious form of the disease. Ocrevus, a biologic, intravenous infusion, was also approved for relapsing forms of MS. Ocrevus, which is only given twice a year, can cause serious infusion-related reactions. These reactions include, but are not limited to, itchy skin, rash, hives, skin redness, flushing, low blood pressure, fever, tiredness, dizziness, headache, throat irritation, shortness of breath, swelling of the throat, nausea and fast heartbeat. Additionally, Ocrevus may increase the risk for cancer, particularly breast cancer. Upper respiratory tract infection was the most common side effect of the biologic seen in the clinical trials for relapsing forms of MS. The list price of Ocrevus is $65,000 per year. Posted March 29, 2017. Via FDA.

The FDA approved Dupixent (dupilumab) to treat adults with moderate to severe eczema. The biologic is intended for patients whose eczema is not adequately controlled by topical therapies. Possible side effects associated with Dupixent include serious allergic reactions and eye problems, such as pink eye and inflammation of the cornea (keratitis). If patients experience new or worsening eye symptoms such as redness, itching, pain or visual changes, they should consult their doctor immediately. The most common side effects include injection site reactions; cold sores in the mouth or on the lips; and eye and eyelid inflammation, including redness, swelling and itching. Dupixent has a list price of $37,000 per year. Posted March 28, 2017. Via FDA.

The heart drug digoxin may increase the risk of death in people with a common heart rhythm disorder. Researchers strongly advise that those patients avoid this medication. Data was analyzed from nearly 18,000 atrial fibrillation patients in an international stroke prevention trial, including about 32% who were on digoxin at the start of the trial and nearly 7% who started taking the drug at some point during the trial. There was no significant association between digoxin use and death risk among patients who were already taking digoxin; however, the risk of death was related to digoxin concentration in the blood. In addition, the risk of death was substantially higher in patients who began digoxin after the start of the study. Posted March 22, 2017. Via HealthDay.

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