What to expect

My first infusion took a little longer than the others. That's because my doctor wanted to watch for any infusion reactions.

{Brenda, living with Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis}

How Rituxan is given

Rituxan is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion once weekly for 4 weeks. An IV infusion is given to you through a needle that's placed in a vein. Here are some things you should know about IV infusions:

  • Infusions are used to treat a variety of conditions and are given by a trained professional in a doctor's office, an infusion center, or a hospital
  • The first Rituxan infusion is given at a slower rate than following infusions in order to closely monitor infusion reactions. If symptoms do occur, they are more likely to happen during the first infusion than during following infusions
  • Your first Rituxan infusion may take 3 to 5 hours. If you experience infusion reactions, the infusion is slowed or stopped to help manage them
  • Rituxan infusions can result in some serious, sometimes life-threatening side effects. In the study of people with GPA and MPA, most reactions were mild and manageable
  • Infusion reactions with Rituxan may include fever, chills and shakes, itching, and coughing. If you experience any type of reaction, be sure to talk with your doctor
  • Before each infusion, be sure to review the Rituxan Medication Guide and discuss it with your doctor
  • Rituxan can lower certain blood cell counts. Your doctor may do blood tests during treatment with Rituxan to check your blood cell counts. Be sure to schedule any visits that require lab tests.

Important Side Effect Information

It is important to learn all you can about Rituxan and the possible side effects that can occur when you receive Rituxan therapy. Be sure to ask your doctor or nurse what you can do to help minimize possible side effects of Rituxan.

This information does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your medical condition or your treatment. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your treatment with Rituxan. To learn more, please see the Medication Guide.

Infusion reactions: Infusion reactions are the most common side effect of Rituxan treatment. Serious infusion reactions can happen during your infusion or within 24 hours after your infusion of Rituxan. Your doctor should give you medicines before your infusion of Rituxan to decrease your chance of having a severe infusion reaction.

Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you get any of these symptoms during or after an infusion of Rituxan:

  • Hives (red itchy welts) or rash
  • Itching
  • Swelling of your lips, tongue, throat or face
  • Sudden cough
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or wheezing
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Palpitations (feeling like your heart is racing or fluttering)
  • Chest pain

Common side effects during treatment with Rituxan include:

  • Infusion reactions
  • Chills
  • Infections
  • Body aches
  • Tiredness
  • Low white blood cell count

Other side effects with Rituxan include:

  • Aching joints during or within hours of receiving an infusion
  • More frequent upper respiratory tract infections

The following information may help you prepare:

  • The doctor may give you certain medicines before infusions to help reduce side effects such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and diphenhydramine HCI (Benadryl®)
  • Due to the possibility of infusion reactions, the first infusion may take most of the day, but later infusions may take less time. Be sure to schedule enough time for the infusion, and take activities such as crossword puzzles or a book to help you pass the time
  • Take an extra sweater to help you stay warm in case the room is chilly

Some tips for your Rituxan infusion

Here are some helpful tips for your Rituxan infusion:

  • Remember to set aside enough time—your first infusion may take 3 to 5 hours. Following infusions may take slightly less time than your first. But they will still last several hours, so make sure you set aside enough time in your day
  • Be mindful of how you feel—even if you didn't experience side effects from previous infusions, you should still be mindful of how you feel. If you do experience any side effects, be sure to report them to your doctor right away
  • Take someone with you—you may find it nice to have this time to yourself and a loved one, so take someone along and pass the time catching up
  • Take activities—next time you may want to take activities such as crossword puzzles or a book to read to help you pass the time
  • Eating and drinking—there are no special rules about what you should eat or drink before an infusion. You may, however, be at the infusion facility for the better part of the day. So consider taking some snacks or packing a meal
  • Additional medications—as always, remember to let your doctor or nurse know about any medications or supplements you're taking
  • Review the Medication Guide—before each infusion, remember to review the Medication Guide and ask your doctor any questions you may have

Safety

Before you start exploring, take the time to read the side effect information.

Roll over to read more

What does Rituxan treat?

Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA) (Wegener's Granulomatosis) and Microscopic Polyangiitis (MPA): with glucocorticoids, to treat GPA and MPA.

People with serious infections should not receive Rituxan. It is not known if Rituxan is safe or effective in children.

Important Side Effect Information

What is the most important information I should know about Rituxan?

Rituxan can cause serious side effects that can lead to death, including:

  • Infusion reactions: infusion reactions are the most common side effect of Rituxan treatment. Serious infusion reactions can happen during your infusion or within 24 hours after your infusion of Rituxan. Your doctor should give you medicines before your infusion of Rituxan to decrease your chance of having a severe infusion reaction.
    Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you get any of these symptoms during or after an infusion of Rituxan:
    • Hives (red itchy welts) or rash
    • Itching
    • Swelling of your lips, tongue, throat or face
    • Sudden cough
    • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or wheezing
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness or feeling faint
    • Palpitations (feeling like your heart is racing or fluttering)
    • Chest pain
  • Severe skin and mouth reactions: tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you get any of these symptoms at any time during your treatment with Rituxan:
    • Painful sores or ulcers on your skin, lips, or in your mouth
    • Blisters
    • Peeling skin
    • Rash
    • Pustules
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation: before Rituxan treatment, your doctor will do blood tests to check for HBV infection. If you have had hepatitis B or are a carrier of hepatitis B virus, receiving Rituxan could cause the virus to become an active infection again. Hepatitis B reactivation may cause serious liver problems, including liver failure and death. You should not receive Rituxan if you have active hepatitis B liver disease. Your doctor will monitor you for hepatitis B infection during and for several months after you stop receiving Rituxan
  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML): PML is a rare, serious brain infection caused by a virus. People with weakened immune systems can get PML. Your chance of getting PML may be higher if you are treated with Rituxan alone or with other medicines that weaken your immune system. PML can result in death or severe disability. There is no known treatment, prevention, or cure for PML Tell your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms or if anyone close to you notices these symptoms:
    • Confusion or problems thinking
    • Loss of balance
    • Change in the way you walk or talk
    • Decreased strength or weakness on one side of your body
    • Blurred vision or loss of vision

What should I tell my doctor before receiving Rituxan?

Before receiving Rituxan, tell your doctor if you:

  • Have had a severe infusion reaction to Rituxan in the past
  • Have a history of heart problems, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, or lung or kidney problems
  • Have had an infection, currently have an infection, or have a weakened immune system
  • Have had a recent vaccination or are scheduled to receive vaccinations
  • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Talk to your doctor about effective birth control
  • Are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed
  • Are taking any medications, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements

What are the possible side effects of Rituxan?

Rituxan can cause serious and life-threatening side effects, including:

  • Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS): TLS is caused by the fast breakdown of cancer cells. TLS can cause you to have:
    • Kidney failure and the need for dialysis treatment
    • Abnormal heart rhythm
    Your doctor may do blood tests to check you for TLS. Your doctor may give you medicine to help prevent TLS.
  • Serious infections: serious infections can happen during and after treatment with Rituxan, and can lead to death. Rituxan can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. Types of serious infections that can happen with Rituxan include bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. After receiving Rituxan, 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. Call your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of infection:
    • Fever
    • Cold symptoms, such as runny nose or sore throat that do not go away
    • Flu symptoms, such as cough, tiredness, and body aches
    • Earache or headache
    • Pain during urination
    • White patches in the mouth or throat
    • Cuts, scrapes, or incisions that are red, warm, swollen, or painful
  • Heart problems: Rituxan may cause chest pain and irregular heartbeat, which may need treatment, or your doctor may decide to stop your treatment with Rituxan
  • Kidney problems: especially if you are receiving Rituxan for NHL. Your doctor should do blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working
  • Stomach and serious bowel problems that can sometimes lead to death: bowel problems, including blockage or tears in the bowel can happen if you receive Rituxan with chemotherapy medicines to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Tell your doctor right away if you have any stomach area pain during treatment with Rituxan
  • Low blood cell counts: your doctor may do blood tests during treatment with Rituxan to check your blood cell counts
    • White blood cells: white blood cells fight against bacterial infections. Low white blood cells can cause you to get infections, which may be serious
    • Red blood cells: red blood cells carry oxygen to your body tissues and organs
    • Platelets: platelets are blood cells that help your blood to clot

What are common side effects during treatment with Rituxan?

  • Infusion reactions
  • Chills
  • Infections
  • Body aches
  • Tiredness
  • Low white blood cell count

Other side effects include:

  • Aching joints during or within hours of receiving an infusion
  • More frequent upper respiratory tract infections

How will I receive Rituxan?

  • Rituxan is given by infusion through a needle placed in a vein (intravenous infusion) in your arm. Talk to your doctor about how you will receive Rituxan
  • Your doctor may prescribe medicines before each infusion of Rituxan to reduce side effects of infusions such as fever and chills
  • Your doctor should do regular blood tests to check for side effects of Rituxan

Before each Rituxan treatment, your doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your general health. Tell your doctor or nurse about any new symptoms.

You may report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.

Please see the Rituxan Medication Guide including most serious side effects for additional important side effect information.

Safety

close

What does Rituxan treat?

Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA) (Wegener's Granulomatosis) and Microscopic Polyangiitis (MPA): with glucocorticoids, to treat GPA and MPA.

People with serious infections should not receive Rituxan. It is not known if Rituxan is safe or effective in children.

Important Side Effect Information

What is the most important information I should know about Rituxan?

Rituxan can cause serious side effects that can lead to death, including:

What should I tell my doctor before receiving Rituxan?

Before receiving Rituxan, tell your doctor if you:

What are the possible side effects of Rituxan?

Rituxan can cause serious and life-threatening side effects, including:

What are common side effects during treatment with Rituxan?

Other side effects include:

How will I receive Rituxan?

Before each Rituxan treatment, your doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your general health. Tell your doctor or nurse about any new symptoms.

You may report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.

Please see the Rituxan Medication Guide including most serious side effects for additional important side effect information.