Being your own health advocate

When it comes to matters of your health, it is important that you become a good advocate for yourself. This means knowing what treatment options are available to you. It also means making sure that any treatment decisions that are made are made in your best interest.

So, how can you become your own advocate? Here are some tips from patients like you:

Learn all you can about your disease and available treatment options. Being informed can help you and your doctor choose treatments that are best suited for you.
Ask questions for your doctor and the entire healthcare team. Share a list of questions that you may want answered. If possible, take along another person who can take notes for you. And don't be embarrased to ask questions and request explnations if you don't understand something.
Talk to other who have been diagnosed with Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA) and Microscopic Polyangiitis (MPA). It is important to know that you are not alone. By sharing your experiences with others who have these diseases, you can help each other learn more.
Let your family and friends know how you are feeling. Work with your friends and family to set realistic expectations to manage your disease and move forward
Manage your own medical information. You have the right to know and understand what tests are being done, as well as the results of those tests. Be sure to ask for copies of any reports or doctor's notes. Keep your records organized and in a portable file so you can take them with you to your appointment.
Encourage your doctors to communication and work together. You may have many specialists involved in your treatment. It is important that they coordinate treatment plans, share information, and consult each other every step of the way so that receive the best treatment possible.
Tell your doctor or nurse if you experience any side effects. He or she can work with you to help manage some of the possible side effects of Rituxan.

Safety

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

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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.