Rituxan, also known by its drug name, Rituximab, is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. Rituxan is approved for treatment of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in people who have not responded adequately to anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) drugs such as Remicade.
Rituxan is not appropriate for pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers. Rituxan may not be recommended for people with active infections. Rituxan should be used with caution by people with a history of hepatitis, kidney problems, heart disease, irregular heartbeat, or chest pain.
Rituxan is an immunomodulator, or in other words, a drug that modulates the immune system. It is also considered a biologic. It is a genetically engineered antibody, or protein used by the immune system to identify and neutralize substances. Rituxan is believed to work by inhibiting B-lymphocyte cells, preventing them from attacking the connective tissues.
How do I take it?
Rituxan is administered as two intravenous infusions, 15 days apart. Infusion usually requires two to four hours. Rituxan begins taking effect about six weeks after the second infusion. Effects may last for up to six months. You can receive another course of Rituxan six months after the second infusion.
Your doctor may order regular tests to monitor your blood cell counts while you are taking Rituxan.
Consult your doctor before receiving vaccines while taking Rituxan.
Use effective birth control while you are on Rituxan.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Rituxan.
Rituximab (Rituxan) was approved by the FDA based on clinical trials involving more than 800 people. Researchers concluded that those who received Rituximab and Methotrexate showed significant improvement over those who received Methotrexate and a placebo.
Rituxan can cause life-threatening side effects. Rituxan has caused severe infusion reactions and serious infections in some people. In rare cases, Rituxan has been linked to a serious brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Tell your doctor immediately if you experience neurological symptoms such as confusion, weakness on one side of the body, vision changes, difficulty talking or walking, or trouble concentrating. Rituxan can cause the Hepatitis B virus to reactivate in those who carry it. Rituxan can also cause severe skin rash and mouth sores.
Common side effects of Rituxan include headache, aching joints, dizziness, fever and chills, nausea, heartburn, and flushed skin.
You may be more likely to contract infections, including serious infections, due to decreased immune system function while taking Rituxan. Contact your doctor if you develop signs of infection such as fever, cough, trouble breathing, white patches in the mouth, pain or burning during urination, or unusual vaginal discharge.
Seek medical help immediately if you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction such as trouble breathing, severe dizziness, a rash, or itching or swelling of the face, tongue, and throat.