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Ocrevus vs Tysabri: An In-depth Comparison for MS Treatment

Explore a comprehensive comparison between Ocrevus and Tysabri for Multiple Sclerosis treatment. Delve into their effectiveness, side effects, and cost, along with patient and physician preferences. Additionally, discover an alternative solution in stem cell therapy to potentially mitigate MS symptoms without side effects.

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In the battle against Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, several treatment options have emerged to manage and alleviate the symptoms. Among these, Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) and Tysabri (natalizumab) stand out due to their efficacy and unique mechanisms of action.

This article embarks on a detailed comparison between Ocrevus and Tysabri, shedding light on their features, benefits, side effects, and much more, to aid patients and medical practitioners in making informed decisions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Both Ocrevus and Tysabri are potent monoclonal antibody medications.
  • While Ocrevus is known for targeting CD20 B cells, Tysabri works by inhibiting the migration of immune cells into the brain.
  • Side effects, cost, and administration frequency are some of the factors that may influence a patient's choice between the two.


What is Ocrevus?

Ocrevus, scientifically known as ocrelizumab, is a prescription medication used in the treatment of patients with relapsing or primary progressive forms of Multiple Sclerosis. The drug operates by targeting CD20 B cells, which play a critical role in the inflammation that characterizes MS.

Mechanism of Action

  • CD20 Monoclonal Antibody: Ocrevus belongs to a class of drugs known as CD20 monoclonal antibodies, which function by causing B cells to self-destruct, thereby reducing inflammation in individuals with MS​1​​2​.


  • Dosage: Initially, patients receive a loading dose followed by IV infusion every six months.
  • Form: Intravenous solution.

Side Effects

  • Common Side Effects: Include lower respiratory tract infection, upper respiratory tract infection, cough, and infusion-related reaction​2​.


The average annual patient cost of Ocrevus can vary substantially depending on factors like:

  • Insurance coverage: The out-of-pocket cost for patients can range from $0 for those with full insurance coverage to the full list price of around $100,000 per year without insurance.
  • Negotiated discounts: The list price of Ocrevus is around $65,000 per infusion, or $130,000 annually. However, insurance companies and some government programs negotiate discounts of 20-30% off the list price.
  • Infusion/administration costs: Each Ocrevus infusion often requires several hours at an infusion center and can cost $1,000-$3,000 per visit
  • Additional monitoring costs: Ocrevus can lower immunity so additional doctor visits and lab tests may be needed, adding a few thousand dollars per year.
  • Medication assistance programs: The Ocrevus manufacturer provides an assistance program that can cover the medication cost for uninsured or underinsured patients.

Some key statistics on the annual cost:

  • The average annual out-of-pocket cost for patients is estimated at $5,000-10,000 with insurance.
  • The average annual cost to insurance plans is $80,000-100,000 after discounts.
  • For uninsured patients, the total medication plus administration costs can reach $150,000+ per year.

So in summary, the average annual patient cost of Ocrevus ranges widely from $0 up to $150,000+ depending on insurance coverage and other factors, with typical costs in the range of $5,000-$100,000. The high list price is often negotiated down by insurance plans.

Mechanism of ActionCD20 Monoclonal Antibody
AdministrationIV infusion every six months
Common Side EffectsRespiratory tract infections, infusion-related reactions
Cost (10 mL dosage)$19,780.21

tsabri for ms

What is Tysabri?

Tysabri, known scientifically as natalizumab, is another potent medication prescribed to adults dealing with Multiple Sclerosis or Crohn's disease. Unlike Ocrevus, Tysabri operates by inhibiting the migration of immune cells into the brain, thus reducing inflammation and the subsequent damage.

Mechanism of Action

  • Selective Immunosuppressant: Tysabri falls under the category of selective immunosuppressants, working to prevent immune cell migration into the brain​2​.

Side Effects

  • Common Side Effects: Tysabri has been associated with headaches as a common side effect. More severe side effects include the risk of a rare viral disease, severe allergic reactions, suppression of the immune system, and liver injury​1​​2​.


  • Price: Tysabri comes at a lower price point compared to Ocrevus, with a 15 mL dosage (300 mg/15 mL) priced at $8,653.95​2​.

Mechanism of ActionSelective Immunosuppressant
AdministrationIV infusion every four weeks
Common Side EffectsHeadaches, severe allergic reactions
Cost (15 mL dosage)$8,653.95

Comparative Analysis

The realm of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) treatment has seen significant advancements with the introduction of various disease-modifying therapies (DMTs). Among them, Ocrevus and Tysabri have marked a remarkable stance due to their distinct mechanisms of action targeting the disease pathology. This section endeavors to dissect the similarities and differences between these two potent drugs, shedding light on their effectiveness, side effects, cost implications, and preferences among patients and physicians.

Similarities and Differences

Both Ocrevus and Tysabri fall under the broad category of monoclonal antibody medications, designed to target specific proteins involved in the inflammatory process characteristic of MS. However, their paths diverge when it comes to the exact mechanism of action.

Comparison of Drug Class and Mechanism of Action:

  • Ocrevus: Classified as a CD20 monoclonal antibody, Ocrevus specifically targets CD20 B cells, which are implicated in the inflammatory responses observed in MS.
  • Tysabri: On the other hand, Tysabri, a selective immunosuppressant, works by inhibiting the migration of immune cells into the brain, thereby reducing the inflammation and subsequent damage to the nervous system.

The unique attributes of each drug lie in their molecular targets and the subsequent impact on the immune system. These differences play a crucial role in determining the drug choice based on the patient’s individual medical condition and the physician’s assessment.

Effectiveness and Side Effects

The effectiveness of Ocrevus and Tysabri can be gauged by analyzing the relapse rates and patient reviews. Studies suggest that Tysabri may have lower annual relapse rates compared to Ocrevus, which is a pivotal factor for many patients.

Side Effects Comparison and Management:

  • Ocrevus: Common side effects include respiratory tract infections and infusion-related reactions.
  • Tysabri: Headaches are common, but more severe side effects like a rare viral disease and liver injury can occur.

The management of side effects involves a personalized approach under strict medical supervision, ensuring that the benefits of the medication outweigh the potential risks.

Cost Comparison

The cost of treatment with Ocrevus and Tysabri varies significantly, making it a vital factor in the decision-making process.

  • Ocrevus: Priced at $19,780.21 for a 10 mL dosage (300 mg/10 mL), the cost of Ocrevus is on the higher side.
  • Tysabri: A relatively lower cost option with a 15 mL dosage (300 mg/15 mL) priced at $8,653.95.

The cost implications often sway the decision towards one drug over the other, based on the financial capacity of the patient and the perceived value of the treatment.

Patient and Physician Preferences

The preference for Ocrevus or Tysabri often hinges on individual patient experiences and the clinical judgment of healthcare providers.

Reviews and Ratings:

  • On, Tysabri holds an average rating of 7.8 out of 10 from 97 reviews, whereas Ocrevus stands at an average rating of 4.5 out of 10 from 152 reviews.

Preference Scenarios:

  • In scenarios where the MS condition is highly active or aggressive, Tysabri might be preferred due to its potential for lower relapse rates.
  • Conversely, Ocrevus might be a suitable choice for individuals with a specific profile of B cell involvement or those who prefer a less frequent dosing schedule.

The choice between Ocrevus and Tysabri is multifaceted, intertwining medical efficacy, side effect profiles, cost considerations, and personal preferences of both patients and healthcare providers. This comparative analysis aims to provide a broad spectrum of insights to aid in making informed decisions in the pursuit of effective MS management.


The comprehensive analysis between Ocrevus and Tysabri unfolds a narrative of distinct paths towards managing Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Both medications present a robust approach to curbing the inflammatory cascade characteristic of MS, albeit through different mechanisms.

The comparative analysis underscores the importance of considering individual patient conditions, financial capacity, and the inherent benefits and risks associated with each drug. However, the journey towards finding an optimal MS treatment doesn't end here.

Stem cell therapy emerges as a promising alternative, offering a potential pathway towards managing MS without the accompanying side effects observed in many DMTs.

Learn More About Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

Are you intrigued by the prospect of a novel treatment approach with no side effects? Explore the realm of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for MS, a groundbreaking procedure that harnesses the regenerative power of stem cells. Delve deeper into this innovative therapy by visiting DVC Stem and discover a new horizon in MS treatment. Your journey towards a better understanding of MS management begins here.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you switch from Tysabri to Ocrevus?

Yes, it's feasible to transition from Tysabri to Ocrevus for managing Multiple Sclerosis (MS), albeit with certain precautions. These drugs operate distinctly: Tysabri hinders lymphocyte migration into the CNS, while Ocrevus eradicates CD20+ B cells. A suggested washout interval of 8-12 weeks is advocated between halting Tysabri and commencing Ocrevus to dodge additive immunosuppression.

Evidence hints at a generally safe and effective transition from Tysabri to Ocrevus. Nevertheless, a marginally elevated risk of carryover PML exists if the washout interval is truncated. Close surveillance is advised when transitioning between these medications.

Is Tysabri the same as Ocrevus?

No, Tysabri and Ocrevus are disparate medications utilized for MS treatment:

  • Tysabri (natalizumab): A monoclonal antibody obstructing alpha-4 integrin, which in turn prevents lymphocyte migration into the CNS.
  • Ocrevus (ocrelizumab): A monoclonal antibody that depletes CD20-expressing B cells.

Despite both being effective in mitigating disease activity in relapsing MS, they possess different mechanisms of action. Tysabri necessitates a 4-weekly IV infusion, whereas Ocrevus is administered every 6 months.

Is Ocrevus the best MS drug?

Ocrevus is regarded as one of the preeminent MS drugs, but might not be the optimal choice for every patient. Here are some pivotal points:

  • In clinical trials, Ocrevus diminished relapse rates, disability progression, and MRI lesion activity compared to Rebif and placebo in relapsing and primary progressive MS.
  • Real-world data also imply that Ocrevus is highly proficient at controlling disease activity.
  • Other highly potent MS drugs encompass Tysabri, Lemtrada, and Mavenclad. The "best" option is contingent on individual factors like disease course, tolerability, safety, cost, etc.
  • For relapsing MS, Ocrevus, Tysabri, and Lemtrada are all deemed highly effective at controlling disease activity.
  • For primary progressive MS, Ocrevus stands as the sole approved treatment and is considered first-line.

Is Tysabri safer than Ocrevus?

Tysabri and Ocrevus exhibit comparable safety profiles overall, yet with some significant distinctions:

  • Tysabri's main risk is PML, an opportunistic brain infection, with the risk augmenting with prolonged treatment duration, especially past 2 years.
  • Ocrevus slightly elevates the risk of infections, but PML risk appears lower than Tysabri. Occurrences of malignancies may also arise.
  • Tysabri necessitates monthly IV infusion, while Ocrevus is dosed every 6 months, thus less frequent dosing can enhance safety.
  • Tysabri exhibits a quicker onset of action, while Ocrevus might take 6+ months to attain full efficacy.
  • Both demand monitoring for side effects, but overall are deemed relatively safe.

In summary, Tysabri might carry a higher PML risk with long-term use, while Ocrevus offers less frequent dosing. Either could be safer depending on individual patient factors.

Why is Ocrevus so good?

Ocrevus is esteemed for several pivotal reasons in the MS treatment realm:

  • Highly effective at reducing relapse rates, disability progression, and MRI lesion activity in relapsing MS and primary progressive MS.
  • It engenders a profound depletion of CD20+ B cells, believed to be instrumental in MS immune pathogenesis.
  • It boasts a favorable safety profile, with serious risks like PML and malignancies being rare.
  • Administered by IV infusion just twice per year, it is a convenient long-term treatment option.
  • Clinical trials denote that the benefits of Ocrevus were sustained over 6+ years of treatment without a loss of efficacy.
  • Real-world data also imply Ocrevus maintains robust long-term effectiveness for controlling MS disease activity.

In summary, Ocrevus produces powerful B cell depletion leading to sustained control of MS, has a convenient dosing schedule, and maintains its efficacy and safety over years of treatment.

How many years can you stay on Tysabri?

There are no definitive guidelines on the maximum duration of Tysabri treatment, but extended use beyond 2 years may increase the risk of PML:

  • In clinical trials, Tysabri was studied for up to 2 years, but patients have now been treated for 15+ years.
  • The risk of PML is lowest in the first 2 years of treatment, approximately 0.1 per 1,000 patients.
  • After 2 years, the PML risk increases to approximately 1 per 1,000 patients. By 4 years, it is 6.1 per 1,000.
  • Some experts recommend considering switching therapies after 2 years if the patient is JCV antibody positive to minimize PML risk. However, others argue Tysabri can be used safely long-term if closely monitored.
  • Individual factors like JCV status, prior immunosuppressant use, and clinical response help determine the duration of safe Tysabri use.

In summary, extended Tysabri use beyond 2 years may increase PML risk significantly, but the optimal duration depends on individual patient factors and close monitoring.

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