Medications > Rituximab | Rituxan > Rituximab (Rituxan) – pictopamphlet
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RITUXIMAB (Rituxan) [Ri-TUX-i-mab]
How to use this medication
Some people with arthritis have special immune cells called B-cells that attack the joints. Rituximab is a biologic medicine that kills B-cells and helps the pain and swelling of arthritis.
Rituximab is given by an intravenous infusion (IV) by a trained nurse. Each infusion can take from 4 to 6 hours.
Rituximab is given on day 0 and again 2 weeks later. The treatment may be repeated every 6 months although some people can go longer between treatments.
Although some patients can feel better soon after receiving the medication, in others it can take a little longer even up to 3 or 4 months.
What you need to do
Have your blood tested occasionally (your doctor will tell you how often). This is important to make sure rituximab isn’t affecting your blood counts.
Rituximab has not been studied in pregnancy. Let your doctor know if you are planning to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
Rituximab can make it harder for you to fight off infections. Call your doctor if:
- You develop a fever
- You think you have an infection
- You are given antibiotics to treat an infection
All patients should have a blood test to check for hepatitis B before starting rituximab.
Side effects & important things to know
Rituximab can rarely cause an allergic reaction during the infusion. It is rare for these reactions to be serious. To prevent infusion reactions, a medication called solumedrol (steroid) is given before each infusion.
Rituximab has been associated with abnormal heart rhythms. Tell your doctor if you have a heart rhythm problem.
Severe skin reactions have rarely been reported in patients receiving rituximab.
Patients have very rarely developed a rare brain infection called PML while taking rituximab. This is very rare.
Rituximab should be stopped before surgery. It can be restarted once things have healed and there is no sign of infection. If you are having surgery, talk to your doctor about rituximab.
When should I call my doctor
- If you are concerned about any side effects
- If you want to or have already decided to stop the medicine