What to Expect at Your Ocrevus Infusion

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Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) was approved as a new treatment for Multiple Sclerosis in March of 2017. It is an infusion that patients have every six months, aside from the first two doses (which are one-half, two weeks apart). As one of the hot new medications on the market, a lot of patients are showing interest in switching to this treatment. Before you make the switch, take a minute to learn what you can expect at your first infusion.

Jackie Zimmerman

Prior to scheduling your infusion

Prior to scheduling your infusion, make sure you have completed all required bloodwork and that you have an up-to-date MRI on file. Ocrevus also has a co-pay program that you can sign up for but you’ll need to do that and be accepted before your first infusion. While you’re waiting on approval (usually handled by your doctor), ask your doctor any questions you may have about Ocrevus, potential side effects and what the mechanism of action is.

Jackie Zimmerman

Infusion centers do’s and don't

Infusion centers can be very different from site to site but there are a few standard common courtesies you should be aware of. It’s a good idea to bring things to keep you entertained and headphones for listening to music or watching a movie. Be sure to read the body language of those around you (they may or may not want to talk). Refrain from phone calls, loud conversations, and playing music or videos without headphones. Also, don’t monopolize the nurses’ time with small talk.

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What to bring

If you’ve been trying to fit some “me time” into your life, now is that time! Bring your laptop because most infusion centers do have WiFi, a book, or some needlework. Anything you can do while sitting for a few hours is fair game! I also recommend bringing some snacks, a water bottle, phone/computer chargers, and a blanket and/or pillow. Many centers have blankets and pillows but having your own is always nice.

Jackie Zimmerman

Before the infusion starts

Each infusion center is different, but typically you follow these steps after you’ve checked in. Someone will check your temperature and blood pressure, and if you’re a woman of child birthing age, you may be asked to take a pregnancy test. A nurse will then start your IV and give you Tylenol to take orally, as well as an IV steroid, IV Benadryl, and a saline flush to help ward off potential side effects. Then you’ll wait 30 minutes before they start the infusion.

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What to expect during your first infusion

You can expect your first and second infusion visits to last about five or six hours. By now, your Benadryl is probably kicking in so you might just be napping instead of playing with all the fun things you brought. The nurse will check your temperature and blood pressure every 15 minute to every half hour. Once the Ocrevus is running, it’s a pretty smooth process from here. You may get cold with a cold liquid running through your veins, which is where the blanket comes in handy.

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Post-infusion

Once you’ve completed your infusion, the nurses may ask you to stay an hour after so they can monitor your vitals. Some people have reported itching, scratchy throats, or a rash during or after the infusion. However, in most cases the Benadryl and Tylenol keep those at bay. Over the next two weeks you may experience a headache or some vertigo, but most patients see that subside quickly over time.

Jackie Zimmerman

Do it all over again!

In two weeks you’ll be back at it again. You’ll follow the same process as the first time, but now you’re more prepared! Make sure to set up your second infusion appointment before you leave your first appointment because the timing of your first two infusions is important. You want to schedule your second infusion as close as possible to two weeks after your first. At the end of your second appointment, you should get your six-month infusion in the books.

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Follow up in three months

Each neurologist handles follows-up appointments differently, but you can expect to have a follow-up appointment about three months after your second infusion. Your doctor will ask how you’re doing, if you have any side effects to report, and will run more blood work.

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Full dose in six months

From here on out, your infusions will be six months apart. That’s only two per year! The only thing that will be different in the future is that you will receive the full dose at each appointment. Hopefully you’re experience is easy peasy and you’re feeling great. Remember to always talk to your doctor if you’re feeling unusual post your infusion.