rituximab, Rituxan (cont.)

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PRESCRIBED FOR: Rituximab is used for treating non-Hodgkin's B-cell lymphomas that have CD20 receptors on their surface. It is used when lymphomas recur following other types of therapy or are unresponsive to other types of therapy. It is approved for treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Wegener's granulomatosis, and microscopic polyangiitis. Rituximab also is combined with methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) to treat rheumatoid arthritis in patients who have failed other biologic medications, such as infliximab, etanercept, or adalimumab.

SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effect of rituximab is a constellation of symptoms (fever, rigors and chills) that occur during administration of the first dose of drug. More than 80% of patients experience these side effects, and it is severe in 4-7 out of every 10,000 patients. The side effects appear only 40% of the time with the second dose of drug and and become less frequent with the last two doses.

Other common side effects related to rituximab are:

After rituximab is administered, large numbers of tumor cells are immediately destroyed (lysed) and eliminated from the body. In 4-5 out of every 10,000 patients the products from the dead cells cannot be eliminated quickly enough and a syndrome called tumor lysis syndrome occurs. This is characterized by a rapid decline in kidney function and a sudden accumulation or decrease in minerals such as potassium, calcium and phosphate to dangerous levels. Tumor lysis syndrome occurs when the size of the tumor or the number of tumor cells circulating in the blood is large, usually within 12-24 hours after the first dose of rituximab.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/17/2015

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