Drugs A - Z

Rituximab (Murine) Solution for injection

This medicine changes the way the body's immune system works

Generic Name: rituximab  |  Brand Name: Rituxan

Brand Names: Rituxan

There is an FDA Alert for this drug. Click here to view it.

    Fatal Infusion-related Reactions
  • Severe, sometimes fatal infusion-related effects reported.
  • Death has occurred within 24 hours of administration.
  • Approximately 80% of fatal reactions have occurred with the first dose.
  • Monitor patients carefully during infusions. If grade 3 or 4 infusion reactions occur, discontinue rituximab infusion and institute appropriate treatment. (See Infusion-related Effects under Cautions.)
    Tumor Lysis Syndrome
  • Acute renal failure requiring dialysis, sometimes fatal, reported in patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma who experience tumor lysis syndrome. (See Tumor Lysis Syndrome under Cautions.)
    Severe Mucocutaneous Reactions
  • Risk of severe, sometimes fatal, mucocutaneous reactions. (See Mucocutaneous Reactions under Cautions.)
    Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML)
  • Risk of potentially fatal PML, secondary to JC virus infection. (See Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy [PML] under Cautions.)

What is this medicine?

RITUXIMAB (ri TUX i mab) is a monoclonal antibody. This medicine changes the way the body's immune system works. It is used commonly to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other conditions. In cancer cells, this drug targets a specific protein within cancer cells and stops the cancer cells from growing. It is also used to treat rhuematoid arthritis (RA). In RA, this medicine slow the inflammatory process and help reduce joint pain and swelling. This medicine is often used with other cancer or arthritis medications.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • blood disorders
  • heart disease
  • history of hepatitis B
  • infection (especially a virus infection such as chickenpox, cold sores, or herpes)
  • irregular heartbeat
  • kidney disease
  • lung or breathing disease, like asthma
  • lupus
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to rituximab, mouse proteins, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is for infusion into a vein. It is administered in a hospital or clinic by a specially trained health care professional.

A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. This medicine is not approved for use in children.

What if I miss a dose?

It is important not to miss a dose. Call your doctor or health care professional if you are unable to keep an appointment.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • cisplatin
  • medicines for blood pressure
  • some other medicines for arthritis
  • vaccines

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Report any side effects that you notice during your treatment right away, such as changes in your breathing, fever, chills, dizziness or lightheadedness. These effects are more common with the first dose.

Visit your prescriber or health care professional for checks on your progress. You will need to have regular blood work. Report any other side effects. The side effects of this medicine can continue after you finish your treatment. Continue your course of treatment even though you feel ill unless your doctor tells you to stop.

Call your doctor or health care professional for advice if you get a fever, chills or sore throat, or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat yourself. This drug decreases your body's ability to fight infections. Try to avoid being around people who are sick.

This medicine may increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your doctor or health care professional if you notice any unusual bleeding.

Be careful brushing and flossing your teeth or using a toothpick because you may get an infection or bleed more easily. If you have any dental work done, tell your dentist you are receiving this medicine.

Avoid taking products that contain aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen unless instructed by your doctor. These medicines may hide a fever.

Do not become pregnant while taking this medicine. Women should inform their doctor if they wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Talk to your health care professional or pharmacist for more information. Do not breast-feed an infant while taking this medicine.

Last Updated: August 17, 2009
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