What is Rituxan?
Rituxan is an intravenous (IV) medication used to treat certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis. It is used off label for autoimmune diseases including MS.
Why use Rituxan in MS?
Rituxan is used to decrease the frequency of MS attacks and slow down the progression of the disease.
Which MS patients are prescribed Rituxan?
MS patients who have not responded to, or cannot tolerate interferons or Copaxone® are sometimes considered for treatment with Rituxan.
How is Rituxan given?
Rituxan is given through an IV at an outpatient infusion center. Patients do not need to be admitted into the hospital for Rituxan. Infusions typically take five to six hours. Rituxan is given twice in two weeks and may be repeated after six months.
Is Rituxan safe in pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
No. The effects of Rituxan on a fetus are unknown and it is not considered safe for use during pregnancy. It is also not known if Rituxan passes into breast milk and so is not considered safe while breastfeeding.
What are possible side effects of Rituxan?
Side effects may include fever, chills, itching, skin rash, throat irritation or tightness, and cough. Other common side effects may include headache, nausea, upper respiratory tract infections and aching joints.
There is a remote chance of allergic or infusion reactions to Rituxan. Reactions may be mild, such as skin rash or hives, or severe, such as breathing difficulties or shock. A severe reaction would require immediate medical treatment and could result in permanent disability or death.
What are less common side effects of Rituxan?
Rare but very serious side effects of Rituxan may include chest pain, abnormal heart beat, severe shortness of breath, severe skin reaction, heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure, bowel (intestine) problems and very rarely viral infections including progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which can be fatal.
What tests are required while I receive Rituxan treatments?
Blood tests are required six weeks and six months after each Rituxan infusion.
What symptoms should I tell my doctor about while I’m getting Rituxan?
A patient should share any new symptoms with his/her doctor.