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Rituxan Side Effects

Generic Name: rituximab

Note: This document contains side effect information about rituximab. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Rituxan.

For the Consumer

Applies to rituximab: intravenous solution

Along with its needed effects, rituximab (the active ingredient contained in Rituxan) 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 while taking rituximab:

More Common

  • Black, tarry stools
  • bleeding gums
  • bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • blurred vision
  • body aches or pain
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • confusion
  • cough
  • difficulty with breathing
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • ear congestion
  • fever
  • flushed, dry skin
  • fruit-like breath odor
  • headache
  • hives or welts, itching, rash
  • increased hunger
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or genitals
  • lower back or side pain
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • 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
  • seizures
  • slow or fast heartbeat
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  • stomach pain
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • sweating
  • swelling of the tongue or throat
  • swollen glands
  • tightness of the chest
  • tingling of the hands or feet
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • unusual weight gain or loss
  • vomiting

Less Common

  • Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • blisters in the mouth
  • blisters on the trunk, scalp, or other areas
  • burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, “pins and needles”, or tingling feeling
  • decreased frequency and amount of urine
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty with moving
  • discouragement
  • feeling sad or empty
  • irregular heartbeat
  • irritability
  • joint or muscle pain
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • muscle cramps
  • muscle pain or stiffness
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • pain or redness at the injection site
  • pain, swelling, or redness in the joints
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, itchy lining of the eye
  • redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
  • stabbing pain
  • trouble concentrating
  • trouble sleeping

Incidence Not Known

  • Blue-yellow color blindness
  • blurred vision or other change in vision
  • burning or stinging of the skin
  • decreased vision
  • dilated neck veins
  • dry cough
  • extreme tiredness or weakness
  • eye pain, tearing
  • feeling of discomfort, illness, or weakness
  • irregular breathing
  • nosebleed
  • painful cold sores or blisters on the lips, nose, eyes, or genitals
  • sensitivity of the eye to light
  • severe abdominal or stomach pain
  • severe vomiting, sometimes with blood
  • sores, welts, or blisters
  • stomach cramps
  • swelling, stiffness, redness, or warmth around many joints
  • swollen lymph glands
  • vision loss

Some side effects of rituximab 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:

More Common

  • Fear
  • lack or loss of strength
  • night sweats
  • throat irritation

Less Common

  • Agitation or anxiety
  • change in taste
  • dry eyes
  • excessive muscle tone
  • feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
  • heartburn
  • increase in body movements
  • lightheadedness
  • muscle tension
  • sensation of spinning
  • sleepiness
  • swelling of the stomach

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to rituximab: intravenous solution


Very common (10% or more): Hypotension (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Hypertension, orthostatic hypotension, myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, tachycardia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Left ventricular failure, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia, angina, myocardial ischemia, bradycardia

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Heart failure, vasculitis (predominately cutaneous), leukocytoclastic vasculitis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Night sweats (15%), rash (15%), pruritus (14%), angioedema (11%), alopecia

Common (1% to 10%): Flushing, urticaria, skin disorder

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Severe bullous skin reactions, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis (Lyell's Syndrome)

Postmarketing reports: Severe mucocutaneous reactions[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (23%), abdominal pain (14%), diarrhea (10%), vomiting (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Throat irritation, dysphagia, stomatitis, constipation, dyspepsia, anorexia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abdominal enlargement

Frequency not reported: GI perforation

Postmarketing reports: Bowel obstruction[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Lymphopenia (48%), leukopenia (14%), neutropenia (14%), thrombocytopenia (12%)

Common (1% to 10%): Blood lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) increased, pancytopenia, granulocytopenia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Anemia, coagulation disorders, aplastic anemia, hemolytic anemia, lymphadenopathy, transient aplastic anemia, hemolytic anemia

Postmarketing reports: Late neutropenia, marrow hypoplasia, Grade 3 to 4 prolonged or late-onset neutropenia, hyperviscosity syndrome in Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, prolonged hypogammaglobulinemia[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Increased ALT (13%)

Frequency not reported: Hepatitis B reactivation with fulminant hepatitis, hepatic failure[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Hypersensitivity

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Anaphylaxis

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Tumor lysis syndrome, cytokine release syndrome, serum sickness[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Infection (bacterial, viral) (31%)

Common (1% to 10%): Sepsis, febrile infection, herpes zoster, fungal infections, infections of unknown etiology, acute bronchitis, sinusitis

Rare (less than 0.1%): Serious viral infections

Postmarketing reports: Lupus-like syndrome, serum sickness, increase in fatal infections in HIV-associated lymphoma, increased incidence of Grade 3 and 4 infections[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Acute infusion reactions (e.g., pain, fever, chills, rigors, pruritus, urticaria/rash, angioedema, sneezing, throat irritation, cough, and/or bronchospasm, with or without associated hypotension or hypertension) (27%)[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Hypophosphatemia (12%)

Common (1% to 10%): Hyperglycemia, peripheral edema, hyperuricemia, weight decrease, peripheral edema, face edema, increased LDH, hypocalcemia[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Back pain (10%), myalgia (10%), arthralgia (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Neck pain, hypertonia

Frequency not reported: Polyarticular arthritis[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (19%), dizziness (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Pyrexia, paresthesia, hypoesthesia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Dysgeusia

Postmarketing reports: Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES)/reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome (RPLS)[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Lacrimation disorder, conjunctivitis

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Severe vision loss

Postmarketing reports: Uveitis, optic neuritis[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Disease progression of Kaposi's sarcoma[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Fever (53%), chills (33%), asthenia (26%), fatigue (13%), pain (12%)

Common (1% to 10%): Migraine, asthenia, tinnitus, ear pain, tumor pain, flushing, malaise, cold syndrome, shivering, multi-organ failure

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Hearing loss[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Anxiety, depression, nervousness, agitation, insomnia[Ref]


Very rare (less than 0.01%): Renal failure[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Cough (13%), rhinitis (12%), epistaxis (11%), dyspnea (10%), bronchitis

Common (1% to 10%): Bronchospasm, sinusitis, pneumonia, chest pain

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Upper respiratory tract infection, asthma, bronchiolitis obliterans (fatal), lung disorder, hypoxia

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Interstitial lung disease

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Respiratory failure

Frequency not reported: Lung infiltration

Postmarketing reports: Pleuritis[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Rituxan (rituximab)." Genentech, South San Francisco, CA.

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

3. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia "APPGuide online. Australian prescription products guide online. Available from: URL:" ([2006]):

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.