Side Effects of Ocrevus: What to Know
Ocrevus is a brand-name prescription drug. It’s a type of medication called a monoclonal antibody. It contains the active drug ocrelizumab.
Ocrevus comes as a solution and is given by IV infusion.
This medication is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat certain types of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults. It’s also approved to treat clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) in adults. (CIS can be the first sign of MS for some people.) Doctors typically prescribe Ocrevus to treat the following types of MS:
Ocrevus is typically prescribed for long-term use.
Similar to other drugs, it may cause adverse reactions (side effects). Side effects of MS infusions can vary. Read below for information about possible side effects of Ocrevus, including common, mild, and serious ones.
Some side effects of Ocrevus may be more common than others. These side effects may last only a few days to weeks. However, some side effects may last longer or become severe or bothersome. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have concerns about any side effects with Ocrevus.
In clinical studies of Ocrevus, these were some side effects that occurred more often:
- mild infection, such as:
- infusion-related side effects*
* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.
Ocrevus can cause mild side effects, which are listed below. However, this list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects. To learn more about side effects of Ocrevus, view the drug’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Ocrevus, which can vary depending on the condition being treated, include:
- mild infection, such as:
- edema (swelling) in the arms or legs
- pain in the arms, legs, or back
The side effects listed above may last only a few days to weeks. However, some side effects may last longer or become severe or bothersome. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have concerns about side effects with Ocrevus.
Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking Ocrevus and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.
It’s possible to have serious side effects with Ocrevus. Serious side effects are listed below, however, this list may not include all possibilities. To learn more about side effects of Ocrevus, view the drug’s prescribing information.
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects with Ocrevus. However, if you think you’re having a medical emergency or you have life threatening side effects, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Ocrevus and their possible symptoms are discussed in the “Side effects explained” section below. These include:
* An allergic reaction is possible after receiving Ocrevus. However, this side effect was not reported in clinical studies.
Here’s detailed information about some side effects of Ocrevus.
Infusion-related side effects
Infusion-related side effects (also called infusion reactions) may occur with Ocrevus. These are side effects that happen during the infusion or after it (post-infusion).
Mild infusion-related side effects were common in clinical studies of Ocrevus. Examples include:
In rare cases, Ocrevus may cause severe infusion-related side effects, such as:
- trouble breathing
- swelling in your throat or mouth
- swelling under your skin, possibly in your hands, feet, lips, or eyelids
What you can do
If you have infusion-related side effects while taking Ocrevus, talk with the healthcare professional who’s giving you the infusion. Tell them about your symptoms right away.
Your healthcare professional will monitor you for up to 1 hour after you’ve received Ocrevus. This allows them to watch for side effects after the infusion. Keep in mind, though, infusion-related side effects can happen up to 24 hours after an Ocrevus infusion.
If you have mild infusion-related side effects with Ocrevus, your healthcare professional may slow or stop your infusion. To lower your risk of having these side effects again, they may give your next infusion more slowly, over a longer period of time. However, if your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe a different treatment for your condition.
Your doctor may prescribe other drugs with Ocrevus to help lower your risk of infusion-related side effects. In this case, you’ll receive doses of these other drugs about 30 to 60 minutes before each Ocrevus infusion.
For example, your doctor may prescribe:
- an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- a steroid, such as methylprednisolone (Medrol)
- a drug to treat fever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol)
If you’re concerned about infusion-related side effects with Ocrevus, talk with your doctor.
Watch for the following symptoms of breast cancer while taking Ocrevus:
- breast pain
- breast lump
- changes in the size, shape, or feel of the breast
- nipple tenderness or discharge
What you can do
If you have any symptoms of breast cancer while taking Ocrevus, tell your doctor right away.
As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Ocrevus. A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible.
This side effect wasn’t reported in clinical studies of Ocrevus. However, infusion-related side effects can cause symptoms that are similar to an allergic reaction. For details, see “Infusion-related side effects” above.
Possible symptoms of mild and serious allergic reactions are listed in the table below.
|Mild allergic reaction symptoms||Serious allergic reaction symptoms|
|• itching||• trouble breathing|
|• rash||• swelling in your throat or mouth|
|• flushing||• swelling under your skin, possibly in your hands, feet, lips, or eyelids|
If you have an allergic reaction to Ocrevus, call your doctor right away. This is important to do because the reaction could become severe.
However, if you’re having a medical emergency or your symptoms feel life threatening, call 911 or a local emergency number.
Here are some common questions about the drug’s side effects and answers to them. Talk with your doctor if you have other questions about this drug.
Does Ocrevus cause weight gain or weight loss?
Keep in mind that Ocrevus may cause edema (swelling) in the arms or legs, and this can lead to a small amount of weight gain. If you have edema with Ocrevus, talk with your doctor about ways to ease this side effect. They may prescribe a medication to help reduce your swelling.
If you’re concerned about weight changes while taking Ocrevus, talk with your doctor. They can recommend ways to help maintain a healthy weight for you.
Are there long-term side effects of Ocrevus?
In most cases, side effects of Ocrevus should be temporary. Many will go away shortly after you start or stop receiving the drug. Certain other side effects may take longer to resolve.
For example, Ocrevus can increase your risk of certain infections, such as upper or lower respiratory infection. You may continue to have an increased risk of infection for several years while still taking or after stopping the drug.
In other cases, Ocrevus can cause serious side effects that lead to long-term problems. For instance, Ocrevus may increase your risk of certain cancers, such as breast cancer. There currently isn’t a known cure for breast cancer. (For more information, see “Ocrevus: Side effects explained” above.)
If you have questions about possible long-term side effects with Ocrevus, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Does Ocrevus affect the teeth, causing dental side effects?
It’s not likely. Tooth problems or other dental side effects weren’t reported in clinical studies of Ocrevus.
Multiple sclerosis (MS), which Ocrevus treats, may lead to dental problems. This typically happens when the symptoms of MS make it difficult to properly care for your teeth. For example, MS may cause loss of muscle coordination. This could keep you from being able to regularly brush or floss your teeth, possibly leading to cavities.
If you’re concerned about dental side effects while taking Ocrevus, talk with your doctor or dentist. They can suggest ways to lower your risk of dental problems with Ocrevus. If you’re interested in seeing a dentist, you can search here to find a dental professional.
Will I have hair loss with Ocrevus?
If you have questions about hair loss and Ocrevus, talk with your doctor.
Does Ocrevus cause eye-related side effects?
Eye-related side effects weren’t reported in clinical studies of Ocrevus.
In rare cases, Ocrevus may cause herpes infection in people who’ve been exposed to the herpes virus. A serious herpes infection can cause eye-related symptoms, such as vision changes, eye pain, or eye redness.
Serious herpes infections weren’t reported in clinical studies of Ocrevus. Although, they have been reported since the drug became available for use.
If you have eye-related side effects while you’re taking Ocrevus, talk with your doctor. They can determine if a herpes infection may be the cause. If you have a herpes infection, your doctor will tell you whether medications are needed to treat it. They’ll also advise if you should temporarily stop taking Ocrevus until your infection is healed.
Will I have joint pain with Ocrevus?
Joint pain is possible with Ocrevus. It wasn’t specifically reported as a side effect of the drug in clinical studies. However, pain in the arms, legs, or back were less common side effects in clinical studies of Ocrevus, and joint pain could be a symptom of these conditions.
Additionally, multiple sclerosis (MS), which Ocrevus treats, can cause symptoms that result in joint pain. Examples include muscle weakness and stiffness in the arms or legs. Because Ocrevus is used to treat MS, you may have joint pain because of MS while you’re taking this drug.
If you have joint pain with Ocrevus, talk with your doctor. They can discuss possible causes of this symptom and help you decide if Ocrevus is working for your MS.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Ocrevus. This drug may not be the right treatment option for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health.
The conditions and factors to consider include those described below.
Hepatitis B. Before starting Ocrevus, tell your doctor if you have hepatitis B or if you’ve had it in the past. Doctors typically will not prescribe Ocrevus if you have an active hepatitis B infection. (“Active” means you’re having symptoms of the condition. Examples of hepatitis B symptoms include belly pain, nausea, vomiting, and dark urine.)
Your doctor will test you for hepatitis B virus before you start taking Ocrevus. If you have this virus in your body, your doctor may watch your condition more closely than usual while you’re taking Ocrevus. In some cases, they may recommend a different treatment instead.
Active infection. If you have any infections, tell your doctor before starting Ocrevus. Ocrevus can lessen the activity of your immune system. This can keep your body from fighting off an infection as well as it would if you weren’t taking the drug. If you have an infection, your doctor will likely treat it before you start taking Ocrevus.
Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Ocrevus or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Ocrevus. Ask your doctor what other medications may be better options for you.
Consuming alcohol during Ocrevus treatment
There aren’t any known safety issues with consuming alcohol during Ocrevus treatment. If you drink alcohol, your doctor can advise on the amount that’s safe to drink while you’re taking the drug.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding during Ocrevus treatment
Below is information about taking Ocrevus while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Pregnancy and Ocrevus
It isn’t known if Ocrevus is safe to take during pregnancy.
Animal studies have shown harm in offspring born to animals given the drug while pregnant. However, animal studies do not always predict what happens in humans.
Your doctor may recommend that you do not take Ocrevus while you’re pregnant. If so, they can tell you about other treatment options for your condition.
If you do take Ocrevus while pregnant, consider enrolling in the drug’s pregnancy registry. This registry collects information about the safety of Ocrevus when used during pregnancy. To learn more, visit the registry’s site or call 833-872-4370. You can also talk with your doctor for more information.
Breastfeeding and Ocrevus
It isn’t known if Ocrevus is safe to take while breastfeeding. If you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk with your doctor. They can advise if Ocrevus is right for you during this time.
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to find out more information about Ocrevus. If you have questions about the drug’s side effects, your pharmacist or healthcare professional can help answer them for you.
The more common side effects of Ocrevus tend to be mild ones. However, let your doctor know about any bothersome or severe side effects that you have with this drug.
In addition to discussing Ocrevus with your doctor, you may find the following articles helpful in learning more.
- Overview of Ocrevus. To read an overview of Ocrevus, see this article.
- Drug comparison. To learn how Ocrevus compares with Rituxan, read this article. To see a comparison with Lemtrada, check out this article.
- Details about multiple sclerosis (MS). To learn more about MS, which Ocrevus is used to treat, see this article.
Disclaimer: Healthgrades has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.