March 3, 2020 |  written by IVX Health

What to Know Before Your First Ocrevus Infusion

Starting a new medication of any kind – especially an ongoing biologic infusion – often brings fear and anxiety with its prescription. Whether you’re new to Ocrevus or it’s been 6 months since your first infusion, we’ve provided tips to making infusion day just a bit more manageable.

Starting Ocrevus Infusions

Starting a new medication of any kind – especially an ongoing biologic infusion treatment – often brings fear and anxiety with its prescription. Whether you’re new to Ocrevus or it’s been six months since your first infusion, we’ve provided tips to making infusion day a bit more manageable.

What is Ocrevus?

Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) is a CD-20 directed cytolytic antibody. It’s given as an infusion twice a year, with the exception of the first year. When patients begin Ocrevus treatment, they receive two infusions, two weeks apart and then another infusion six months later. After that, infusions are administered twice per year every six months.

An infusion of Ocrevus can help keep symptoms at bay, but like any medication, it can also come with potential side effects and risks. The medication is used only in adults. Pregnant women should talk to their doctor about the safety of Ocrevus.

What are Ocrevus Infusions Used to Treat?

An Ocrevus infusion is used to treat primary progressive or relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults. MS is a condition that causes nervous system issues and disrupts the communication flow between the brain and body. Ocrevus infusions help to reduce the miscommunication, thus making it easier to navigate through daily life.

Before Your Ocrevus Infusion

Prior to infusion day, your provider might have a few required tests that need to be updated and/or a current MRI. Ocrevus also offers a co-pay program that you may wish to join before your first infusion. If you’re having trouble navigating the financial assistance programs, check in with your healthcare provider administering your infusion. Many healthcare providers offer financial counseling and help when enrolling into these often complex programs.

Before your Ocrevus infusion, you want to be prepared to reduce side effects as much as possible. Being well-hydrated can help keep side effects at bay. Plan to also get a good night’s sleep, follow your doctor’s instructions for anything you should or shouldn’t eat or drink, and any medication recommendations.

What to Bring to Your Ocrevus Infusion

If you’re receiving your infusion at IVX Health, all of our private patient suites have large flat screen TVs with cable and streaming content to catch up on your favorite shows and movies. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to bring along something to pass the time – a book, laptop, etc. In addition to bringing things to pass the time, you can also bring comfort based items to your MS Ocrevus infusion. If you have a favorite blanket or pillow or something soft to cuddle, feel free to bring it along with you. Being comfortable during your infusion can help you get through it more easily. IVX Health also provides snacks and drinks, but if you’re choosing an alternative infusion site, you might need to pack your own. Ocrevus additionally has a handy infusion checklist you can print out for reference before infusion day. Expect for each Ocrevus infusion visit to last somewhere between four-six hours.

Before the Infusion Begins

Each infusion center follows a certain process when it comes to an Ocrevus infusion. As noted in the FDA’s prescribing information for Ocrevus, a nurse will typically perform a standard pre-infusion assessment or screening to ensure there are no contraindications and will typically give you a corticosteroid and an antihistamine 30-60 minutes before to help reduce potential infusion reactions. These medications may vary based on what your provider chooses.

Your First Infusion

Ocrevus is given twice a year, with the exception of the first infusion being split across two separate infusions (given two weeks apart from one another). The initial two doses last roughly 2.5 hours each. After your first rounds of Ocrevus, you will return every six months for a single infusion, lasting around 3.5 hours. At times, you might feel a little cold as the liquid continues running through your veins. If you’re at IVX Health, simply ask your nurse to bring you one of our cozy blankets or a heated hot/cold pack. A clinician, such as a registered nurse or nurse practitioner, will be monitoring you, including checking vital signs throughout your infusion. If you are experiencing any type of reaction, the clinicians will be readily available to treat and manage the adverse event. At IVX Health, your safety is always our top priority.

What to Expect After Your Ocrevus Infusion

It’s possible to have an allergic reaction to your infusion, and minor infusion reactions are common. After your Ocrevus infusion, you will be required to stay for an observation period to ensure you don’t develop any side effects or infusion reactions. While Ocrevus infusion reactions are rare, some things to look for include:

  • Respiratory infection
  • Skin infection
  • Back pain
  • Rashes
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Headache

Some side effects and allergic reactions to an MS infusion are minor or moderate, and do not require medical treatment. Other Ocrevus infusion reactions can be severe and need prompt medical treatment. If you experience severe reactions to Ocrevus within 24 hours, contact your doctor right away or seek emergency medical help. For a full list of possible reactions, please reference the full reaction list for Ocrevus.

Patient Support and Financial Assistance

As noted on the Ocrevus website, an Ocrevus infusion costs an estimated $65,000 annually – but the majority of patients will not pay this amount – as what you are expected to pay depends on several factors, ranging from your insurance coverage to your assistance program eligibility. The most common types of insurance available include Commercial or Private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Ocrevus has detailed data on each healthcare plan’s estimated out-of-pocket cost available on their website. Additionally, you might be eligible for one of the Ocrevus assistance programs below:

  • Ocrevus Co-Pay Program: This program provides direct financial assistance to MS patients to help with co-pays, out-of-pocket costs, and co-insurance. Eligible commercially insured patients can get help from a Patient Navigator to enroll in the Ocrevus Co-Pay Program.
  • Independent Co-Pay Assistance Foundations: If you need additional help with co-pay, you can get it from independent co-pay financial organizations that assist patients with specific conditions. Your Patient Navigator can refer you to such a foundation including those covered by Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Genentech Patient Foundation: The Genentech Patient Foundation provides free Ocrevus infusions to individuals who lack any insurance coverage or who have financial concerns. To be eligible for Genentech, insured patients must have exhausted all other types of patient assistance mentioned above.

Ocrevus additionally hosts free educational events to learn more about the different types of MS, Ocrevus in general, and to connect with others in your area living with MS.

Ocrevus Infusions at IVX Health

If your treatment regimen Ocrevus infusions, consider IVX Health for your care. We offer appointments that fit your schedule (days, evenings and weekends) in comfortable private suites so you can enjoy your time while receiving treatment. If you’re ready to experience how we are redefining care for patients with chronic conditions, contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our many convenient locations.

Treatment at IVX Health

If biologics like Remicade, Actemra or Orencia  are a part of your chronic illness treatment plan, then consider choosing IVX Health for your ongoing care needs. IVX Health makes it possible to receive your therapy in a comfortable, convenient, and private environment.

With a private suite for every patient, you can watch your favorite Netflix show or movie on the big screen TV in each room, use a laptop or other mobile device to surf the web, or simply hang out with family and friends. We always have chairs for guests, and each center has a family room that is spacious and private if you need to bring your kids to your treatment. We also offer flexible appointment scheduling – including evenings and Saturdays – at any of our convenient locations.

At IVX Health, we truly are invested in helping you live your best life. If you’re ready to experience a new kind of infusion clinic, click here to learn how to move your infusion or injection therapy to IVX Health.