Generic Name: Rituximab (ri TUK si mab)
Brand Name: Rituxan
Medically reviewed on July 4, 2018
- Very bad and sometimes deadly side effects have rarely happened during and within 24 hours after the infusion. Tell your doctor if you have any bad effects during or within 24 hours after the infusion.
- A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
- If you have had hepatitis B before or carry the virus, rituximab can cause the virus to become active. This can lead to very bad and sometimes deadly liver problems. You will be tested for hepatitis B before starting rituximab. You will need to watch for signs of hepatitis while taking rituximab and for several months after stopping it. Talk with your doctor.
- A very bad brain problem called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) has happened with rituximab. It may cause disability or can be deadly. Tell your doctor right away if you have signs like confusion, memory problems, low mood (depression), change in the way you act, change in strength on 1 side is greater than the other, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, or change in eyesight.
Uses of Rituximab:
- It is used to treat a type of leukemia.
- It is used to treat a type of lymphoma.
- It is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
- It is used to treat Wegener's granulomatosis.
- It is used to treat microscopic polyangiitis.
- It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.
What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Rituximab?
- If you have an allergy to rituximab or any other part of rituximab.
- If you are allergic to mouse proteins, talk with the doctor.
- If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
- If you have an infection.
- If you have active hepatitis B infection.
- If you have recently had a live vaccine
- If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take rituximab or within 6 months after your last dose.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with rituximab.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take rituximab with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take Rituximab?
- Tell all of your health care providers that you take rituximab. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
- Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
- You may have more of a chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu. Some infections have been very bad and even deadly.
- Patients with cancer who take rituximab may be at a greater risk of getting a bad health problem called tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). Sometimes, this has been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you have a fast heartbeat or a heartbeat that does not feel normal; any passing out; trouble passing urine; muscle weakness or cramps; upset stomach, throwing up, loose stools, or not able to eat; or feel sluggish.
- Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use with rituximab may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
- If you are taking rituximab for rheumatoid arthritis, make sure you are up to date with all your vaccines.
- People who took rituximab with some cancer drugs have had bowel block or tears in the bowel. Sometimes this has been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you have very bad belly pain; very hard stools (constipation); throwing up, throwing up blood, or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; or black, tarry, or bloody stools.
- Heart problems have happened with rituximab. Sometimes, these have been life-threatening. Talk with the doctor.
- If you are 65 or older, use rituximab with care. You could have more side effects.
- This medicine may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
- Use birth control that you can trust to prevent pregnancy while taking rituximab and for up to 12 months after rituximab.
- If you get pregnant while taking rituximab or within 12 months after your last dose, call your doctor right away.
- If you used rituximab when you were pregnant, tell your baby's doctor.
How is this medicine (Rituximab) best taken?
Use rituximab as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
- It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
- Other drugs will be given with rituximab to help avoid side effects.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
- Call your doctor to find out what to do.
See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
- Signs of high or low blood pressure like very bad headache or dizziness, passing out, change in eyesight.
- Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
- Signs of high blood sugar like confusion, feeling sleepy, more thirst, more hungry, passing urine more often, flushing, fast breathing, or breath that smells like fruit.
- Chest pain or pressure or a fast heartbeat.
- A heartbeat that does not feel normal.
- Feeling very tired or weak.
- Any unexplained bruising or bleeding.
- Kidney problems have happened with rituximab, especially in people with lymphoma. Sometimes, these have been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you are unable to pass urine or if you have blood in the urine or a change in the amount of urine passed.
- Heart failure has rarely happened in people taking rituximab. Sometimes, this has been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you have shortness of breath, a big weight gain, or swelling in the arms or legs.
- Very bad and sometimes deadly lung problems have happened with rituximab. Call your doctor right away if you have lung or breathing problems like trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or a cough that is new or worse.
What are some other side effects of Rituximab?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Feeling tired or weak.
- Upset stomach or throwing up.
- Belly pain.
- Loose stools (diarrhea).
- Runny nose.
- Muscle spasm.
- Muscle or joint pain.
- Back pain.
- Not able to sleep.
- Night sweats.
- Throat irritation.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
How do I store and/or throw out Rituximab?
- If you need to store rituximab at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.
Consumer information use
- If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
- Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
- Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
- Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
- This medicine comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care. Read it again each time rituximab is refilled. If you have any questions about rituximab, please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
More about rituximab
- Rituximab Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Support Group
- En Español
- 80 Reviews
- Drug class: antirheumatics
Other brands: Rituxan