Rituximab vs Ocrelizumab in Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Izanne Roos, Stella Hughes, Gavin McDonnell, Charles B. Malpas, Sifat Sharmin, Cavit Boz, Raed Alroughani, Serkan Ozakbas, Katherine Buzzard, Olga Skibina, Anneke van der Walt, Helmut Butzkueven, Jeannette Lechner-Scott, Jens Kuhle, Murat Terzi, Guy Laureys, Liesbeth Van Hijfte, Nevin John, Pierre Grammond, Francois Grand'MaisonAysun Soysal, Ana Voldsgaard Jensen, Peter Vestergaard Rasmussen, Kristina Bacher Svendsen, Ismael Barzinji, Helle Hvilsted Nielsen, Tobias Sejbæk, Sivagini Prakash, Morten Leif Munding Stilund, Arkadiusz Weglewski, Nadia Mubder Issa, Matthias Kant, Finn Sellebjerg, Orla Gray, Melinda Magyari, Tomas Kalincik, for the MSBase Study Group, for the Danish MS Registry Study Group

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: Ocrelizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody targeted against CD20+ B cells, reduces the frequency of relapses by 46% and disability worsening by 40% compared with interferon beta 1a in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). Rituximab, a chimeric monoclonal anti-CD20 agent, is often prescribed as an off-label alternative to ocrelizumab. Objective: To evaluate whether the effectiveness of rituximab is noninferior to ocrelizumab in relapsing-remitting MS. Design, Setting, and Participants: This was an observational cohort study conducted between January 2015 and March 2021. Patients were included in the treatment group for the duration of study therapy and were recruited from the MSBase registry and Danish MS Registry (DMSR). Included patients had a history of relapsing-remitting MS treated with ocrelizumab or rituximab, a minimum 6 months of follow-up, and sufficient data to calculate the propensity score. Patients with comparable baseline characteristics were 1:6 matched with propensity score on age, sex, MS duration, disability (Expanded Disability Status Scale), prior relapse rate, prior therapy, disease activity (relapses, disability accumulation, or both), magnetic resonance imaging lesion burden (missing values imputed), and country. Exposure: Treatment with ocrelizumab or rituximab after 2015. Main outcomes and Measures: Noninferiority comparison of annualized rate of relapses (ARRs), with a prespecified noninferiority margin of 1.63 rate ratio. Secondary end points were relapse and 6-month confirmed disability accumulation in pairwise-censored groups. Results: Of the 6027 patients with MS who were treated with ocrelizumab or rituximab, a total of 1613 (mean [SD] age; 42.0 [10.8] years; 1089 female [68%]) fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis (898 MSBase, 715 DMSR). A total of 710 patients treated with ocrelizumab (414 MSBase, 296 DMSR) were matched with 186 patients treated with rituximab (110 MSBase, 76 DMSR). Over a pairwise censored mean (SD) follow-up of 1.4 (0.7) years, the ARR ratio was higher in patients treated with rituximab than in those treated with ocrelizumab (rate ratio, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.4-2.4; ARR, 0.20 vs 0.09; P < .001). The cumulative hazard of relapses was higher among patients treated with rituximab than those treated with ocrelizumab (hazard ratio, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.5-3.0). No difference in the risk of disability accumulation was observed between groups. Results were confirmed in sensitivity analyses. Conclusion: In this noninferiority comparative effectiveness observational cohort study, results did not show noninferiority of treatment with rituximab compared with ocrelizumab. As administered in everyday practice, rituximab was associated with a higher risk of relapses than ocrelizumab. The efficacy of rituximab and ocrelizumab administered at uniform doses and intervals is being further evaluated in randomized noninferiority clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-797
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA Neurology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023

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