Generic Name: rituximab (ri-TUX-i-mab - abbs)
Fatal infusion reactions may occur within 24 hours of rituximab infusion; approximately 80% of fatal reactions occurred with the first infusion. Monitor patients and discontinue rituximab-abbs infusion for severe reactions. Severe and potentially fatal mucocutaneous reactions can occur. Reactivation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) may occur with some cases resulting in fulminant hepatitis, hepatic failure, or death. Screen patients for HBV infection prior to treatment. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), including fatal PML, can also occur .
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on March 15, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antineoplastic Agent
Pharmacologic Class: Rituximab
Uses for rituximab-abbs
Rituximab-abbs injection is used alone or together with other cancer medicines to treat a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). It helps the immune system destroy cancer cells. Rituximab-abbs is a monoclonal antibody.
Rituximab-abbs injection is used together with other cancer medicines (eg, fludarabine and cyclophosphamide) to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
Rituximab-abbs injection is used together with methotrexate to treat the symptoms of moderate-to-severely-active rheumatoid arthritis. It helps to keep joint damage from getting worse after other medicines (eg, adalimumab, etanercept, or infliximab) did not work well. The use of rituximab-abbs injection in rheumatoid arthritis without previous treatment with these medicines is not recommended.
Rituximab-abbs injection is used together with steroids to treat granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA). These are immune disorders that cause blood vessels to be inflamed.
Rituximab-abbs is to be given only by or under the direct supervision of your doctor.
Before using rituximab-abbs
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For rituximab-abbs, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to rituximab-abbs or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of rituximab-abbs injection in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of rituximab-abbs injection in the elderly.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving rituximab-abbs, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using rituximab-abbs with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
- Measles Virus Vaccine, Live
- Mumps Virus Vaccine, Live
- Rotavirus Vaccine, Live
- Rubella Virus Vaccine, Live
- Varicella Virus Vaccine, Live
- Zoster Vaccine, Live
Using rituximab-abbs with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Adenovirus Vaccine
- Bacillus of Calmette and Guerin Vaccine, Live
- Cholera Vaccine, Live
- Dengue Tetravalent Vaccine, Live
- Influenza Virus Vaccine, Live
- Poliovirus Vaccine, Live
- Smallpox Vaccine
- Typhoid Vaccine
- Yellow Fever Vaccine
Using rituximab-abbs with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Influenza Virus Vaccine (Subvirion)
- Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of rituximab-abbs. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Angina (chest pain), history of or
- Heart disease or
- Heart rhythm problems (eg, arrhythmia), history of or
- Hepatitis B, or history of or
- Infection (eg, bacteria, fungus, or virus) or
- Kidney disease or
- Lung problems or
- Stomach or bowel problems (eg, intestinal blockage, perforation, ulcers)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Hypogammaglobulinemia (immune system disorder), prolonged—Use with caution. May increase risk for infections.
- Infection, severe and active—Should not be used in patients with this condition.
Proper use of rituximab-abbs
Before receiving rituximab-abbs, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits from receiving the medicine. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you rituximab-abbs in a medical facility. It is given through a needle placed into one of your veins. The medicine must be given slowly, so the needle will have to remain in place for 30 to 90 minutes.
You may receive other medicines (eg, fever medicine, allergy medicine) before starting treatment with rituximab-abbs to help prevent unwanted side effects.
You may also receive other medicines to prevent pneumonia and herpes virus infection during treatment with rituximab-abbs and for at least 6 months after the last dose for granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis or for up to 12 months for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Rituximab-abbs should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow the instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
Precautions while using rituximab-abbs
It is very important that your doctor check your progress closely and at regular visits to make sure that rituximab-abbs is working properly. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Receiving rituximab-abbs while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant during treatment with rituximab-abbs and for at least 12 months after the last dose. If you think you have become pregnant while receiving rituximab-abbs, tell your doctor right away.
Rituximab-abbs may cause infusion-related reactions, which can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Tell your doctor right away if you start to have a fever, chills or shaking, dizziness, trouble breathing, itching or rash, lightheadedness or fainting after receiving rituximab-abbs.
Rituximab-abbs can cause a hepatitis B infection to come back. Check with your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of liver problems, including skin and eyes turning yellow, dark brown-colored urine, right-sided abdominal or stomach pain, fever, or severe tiredness.
Serious skin reactions can occur during treatment with rituximab-abbs. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, red skin lesions, severe acne or skin rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, or fever or chills while you are receiving rituximab-abbs.
Rituximab-abbs may cause a rare and serious brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). The risk for getting this infection is higher if you have rheumatoid arthritis. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of receiving rituximab-abbs and the risk for this infection. Check with your doctor right away if you are having more than one of these symptoms: vision changes, loss of coordination, clumsiness, memory loss, difficulty speaking or understanding what others say, and weakness in the legs.
Rituximab-abbs may cause a serious type of reaction called tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). Your doctor may give you a medicine to help prevent this. Call your doctor right away if you have a decrease or change in the amount of urine, joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, lower back, side, or stomach pain, a rapid weight gain, swelling of the feet or lower legs, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Rituximab-abbs may increase your risk of developing infections (eg, viral, bacterial, or fungal) during or after treatment with rituximab-abbs. Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections while you are receiving rituximab-abbs. Wash your hands often. Tell your doctor if you have lupus or if you have any kind of infection before you start receiving rituximab-abbs. Also tell your doctor if you have ever had an infection that would not go away or an infection that kept coming back.
Call your doctor right away if you start to have a cough that would not go away, weight loss, night sweats, fever, chills, flu-like symptoms (eg, runny or stuffy nose, headache, blurred vision, or feeling generally ill), painful or difficult urination, or sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips. These may be signs that you have an infection.
Non-live vaccines may be given at least 4 weeks before starting rituximab-abbs. However, do not have any immunizations (vaccinations) while you are being treated with rituximab-abbs and after you stop treatment with it, without your doctor's approval. Rituximab-abbs may lower your body's resistance, and there is a chance you might get the infection the immunization is meant to prevent. In addition, other persons living in your household should not get live vaccines (eg, nasal flu virus vaccine). Try to avoid persons who have taken live vaccines. Do not get close to them and do not stay in the same room with them for very long. If you cannot take these precautions, you should wear a protective face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
Rituximab-abbs may cause heart and heart rhythm problems (eg, heart attack, arrhythmia, cardiogenic shock). Check with your doctor if you have chest pain or discomfort, pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck, dizziness, fainting, fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat, cool, sweaty skin, or trouble breathing.
Check with your doctor right away if you have bloody urine, a decrease in frequency or amount of urine, an increase in blood pressure, increased thirst, loss of appetite, lower back or side pain, nausea, swelling of the face, fingers, or lower legs, trouble breathing, unusual tiredness or weakness, vomiting, or weight gain. These could be symptoms of a serious kidney problem.
Rituximab-abbs may cause serious stomach and bowel problems, especially when used with other cancer medicines. Check with your doctor right away if you start having stomach pain while being treated with rituximab-abbs.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Rituximab-abbs side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Black, tarry stools
- bleeding gums
- bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
- bloody urine
- blurred vision
- chest pain or tightness
- difficulty breathing
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- dry mouth
- flushed, dry skin
- fruit-like breath odor
- increased cough
- increased hunger
- increased thirst
- increased urination
- itching, skin rash
- large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or genitals
- lower back or side pain
- noisy breathing
- pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
- painful or difficult urination
- pale skin
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- pounding in the ears
- rapid weight gain
- slow or fast heartbeat
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
- stomach pain
- stuffy or runny nose
- swollen glands
- tingling of the hands or feet
- troubled breathing
- troubled breathing with exertion
- unexplained weight loss
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- unusual weight gain or loss
Incidence not known
- Back pain
- blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
- blue-yellow color blindness
- chest discomfort
- cough producing mucus
- decreased vision
- dilated neck veins
- dry cough
- extreme tiredness or weakness
- eye pain
- feeling of discomfort
- general feeling of discomfort, illness, or weakness
- high fever
- irregular breathing
- irregular heartbeat
- joint pain or swelling
- muscle pain
- pain or cramping in the abdomen
- red skin lesions, often with a purple center
- red, irritated eyes
- redness, soreness, or itching skin
- sores, welts, or blisters
- swelling of the face, fingers, feet, or lower legs
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Lack or loss of strength
- night sweats
- throat irritation
- difficulty in moving
- feeling of warmth
- muscle cramps or stiffness
- redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Frequently asked questions
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More about rituximab
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- En Español
- 105 Reviews
- Drug class: antirheumatics
- FDA Alerts (1)
- Patient Information
- Rituximab Intravenous (Advanced Reading)
- Rituximab-pvvr Intravenous (Advanced Reading)
Related treatment guides
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