What to Expect With Rituxan
How Rituxan is given
Rituxan® (rituximab) 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
- If you have an infusion reaction, the infusion is slowed or stopped to help manage it
- Rituxan infusions can result in some serious, sometimes life-threatening side effects
- 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 about 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.
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
- Severe Skin and Mouth Reactions: painful sores or ulcers on your skin, lips, or in your mouth; blisters, peeling skin, rash, or pustules
- Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Reactivation: 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
- Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML): a rare, serious brain infection caused by the JC virus
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 other medical conditions
- Heart problems
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Lung or kidney problems
- Have had an infection, currently have an infection, or have a weakened immune system
- Have recently been given a vaccine, plan to get a vaccine, or are in contact with someone who is planning to get a vaccine. You should not get certain vaccines before or after receiving Rituxan. Some types of vaccines can spread to people with a weakened immune system and cause serious problems
- Have taken Rituxan in the past
- Have any other medical conditions
- 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. Especially tell your
doctor if you take or have taken:
- A Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) inhibitor medicine
- A Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug (DMARD)
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 or may cause an abnormal heart rhythm
- Serious Infections: Serious infections can happen during and after treatment with Rituxan and can lead to death
- Heart Problems: Rituxan may cause chest pain and irregular heartbeats, 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: 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
What are common side effects during treatment with Rituxan?
- Infusion reactions
- Body aches
- Low white blood cell counts
Other side effects include:
- Aching joints during or within hours of receiving an infusion
- More frequent upper respiratory tract infections
Tell your doctor or healthcare team about any side effect that bothers you or does not go away.
These are not all of the possible side effects with Rituxan. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA‐1088 or http://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.
The following information may help you prepare:
- Your doctor may give you certain medicines before infusions to help reduce side effects. These may include 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 infusions
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—you may want to take activities such as crossword puzzles or a book to help you pass the time
- Eating and drinking—there are no special rules about what you should eat or drink before an infusion. However, you may 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.