Rituximab injection is used alone or with other medicines to treat a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). It helps the immune system destroy cancer cells. Rituximab injection is a monoclonal antibody.
Rituximab is used together with fludarabine and cyclophosphamide to treat a type of cancer called chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
Rituximab is used together with methotrexate to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It helps to keep joint damage from getting worse after at least one other medicine (eg, adalimumab, etanercept, or infliximab) has been used and did not work well.
Rituximab is used together with steroids to treat granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA or Wegener's granulomatosis) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA). These are immune disorders that cause blood vessels to be inflamed.
This medicine is to be administered only by or under the immediate supervision of your doctor.
Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling, rituximab is used in certain patients with the following medical conditions:
Posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (blood disorder occurring after an organ transplant) in children.
Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (cancer of the blood).
This product is available in the following dosage forms:
2 What to Know Before Using
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
2. Pediatric Population:
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of rituximab injection in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
3. Geriatric Population:
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of rituximab injection in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have infections and age-related heart and lung problems, which may require caution in patients receiving rituximab injection.
All Trimesters: Category C: Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
6. Drug Interactions:
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Influenza Virus Vaccine (Subvirion)
Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent
7. Other Interactions:
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
8. Other Medical Problems:
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits from receiving the medicine. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins.
Rituximab must be given slowly, so the needle will remain in place for a few hours. You may also receive medicines (eg, acetaminophen, antihistamines) to help prevent possible allergic reactions to the injection.
This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. It is very important that you read and understand this information. Ask your doctor about anything you do not understand.
4 Precautions to Take
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
This medicine may increase your risk of developing infections (viral, bacterial, or fungal) during or after treatment with this medicine. These infections can be severe and lead to death. Some patients have developed low levels of certain antibodies in their blood for a long period of time (longer than 11 months). Some of these patients with low antibody levels developed infections. Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections while you are using this medicine. Wash your hands often. Tell your doctor if you have lupus or if you have any kind of infection before you start using this medicine. Also tell your doctor if you have ever had an infection that would not go away or an infection that kept coming back.
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy:
This medicine may cause a rare and serious brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). The risk for getting this infection is higher if you have rheumatoid arthritis. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of taking this medicine and the risk of this infection. Check with your doctor right away if you are having more than one of these symptoms: vision changes, loss of coordination, clumsiness, memory loss, difficulty speaking or understanding what others say, and weakness in the legs.
Call your doctor right away if you start to have a cough that won't go away, weight loss, night sweats, fever, chills, flu-like symptoms (such as a runny or stuffy nose, headache, blurred vision, or feeling generally ill), painful or difficult urination, or sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips. These may be signs that you have an infection.
While you are being treated with rituximab, and after you stop treatment with it, do not have any immunizations (vaccinations) without your doctor's approval. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, non-live virus vaccines should be given at least 4 weeks before receiving this medicine. Rituximab may lower your body's resistance, and there is a chance you might get the infection the immunization is meant to prevent. In addition, other persons living in your household should not get live vaccines (eg, nasal flu virus vaccine). Try to avoid persons who have taken live vaccines. Do not get close to them and do not stay in the same room with them for very long. If you cannot take these precautions, you should wear a protective face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
Rituximab may cause chest pain, fever, chills, itching, hives, flushing of the face, rash, troubled breathing, or swelling of the face, tongue, and throat within a few hours after you receive it. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms.
Tumor Lysis Syndrome:
This medicine may cause a serious type of reaction called tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). Your doctor may give you a medicine to help prevent this. Call your doctor right away if you have a decrease or change in urine amount, joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, lower back, side, or stomach pain, a rapid weight gain, swelling of the feet or lower legs, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Serious skin reactions can occur during treatment with this medicine. Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, red skin lesions, severe acne or skin rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, or fever or chills while you are using this medicine.
Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of liver problems. The symptoms include skin and eyes turning yellow, dark brown-colored urine, right-sided abdominal or stomach pain, fever, or severe tiredness.
This medicine may cause serious stomach and bowel problems, especially when used with other cancer medicines. Check with your doctor right away if you start having stomach pain while being treated with this medicine.
Conception and Pregnancy:
Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. You should not become pregnant while you are using this medicine and for 12 months after stopping it. Talk to your doctor about effective birth control.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
5 Potential Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Painful cold sores or blisters on the lips, nose, eyes, or genitals
Sensitivity of the eye to light
Severe abdominal or stomach pain
Severe vomiting, sometimes with blood
Sores, welting, or blisters
Swelling, stiffness, redness, or warmth around many joints
Swollen and inflamed joints
Swollen lymph glands
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
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