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Safety

Before exploring, please read the side effect information.

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What does Rituxan treat?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): with another prescription medicine called methotrexate, to reduce the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe active RA in adults, after treatment with at least one other medicine called a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist has been used and did not work well enough.

People with serious infections should not receive Rituxan. It is not known if Rituxan is safe or effective in children.

Important Side Effect Information

What is the most important information I should know about Rituxan?

Rituxan can cause serious side effects that can be fatal, including:

  • Infusion reactions—infusion reactions are the most common side effect of Rituxan treatment. Serious infusion reactions can happen during or up to 24 hours after an infusion. During clinical trials, less than 1% of people taking Rituxan experienced serious infusion reactions
  • Severe skin and mouth reactions—painful sores or ulcers on your skin, lips, or in your mouth; blisters; peeling skin; rash; or small, pus-filled blisters
  • Return of hepatitis B virus (HBV)—if you previously had hepatitis B, Rituxan can cause the disease to become an active infection again, even if you are not showing any symptoms
  • PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy)—a rare but serious brain infection caused by the JC virus

What are the possible side effects of Rituxan?

Rituxan can cause serious and life-threatening side effects, including:

  • TLS (tumor lysis syndrome)—has occurred in patients using Rituxan to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It is caused by cancer cells breaking down and can lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis treatment or cause abnormal heart rhythm
  • Serious infections—these can happen during and after treatment and can be fatal. During clinical trials, 2% of people taking Rituxan developed serious infections
  • Heart problems—Rituxan may cause chest pain and irregular heartbeat. Your doctor or healthcare team may provide treatment or decide to stop treating with Rituxan if you experience these symptoms
  • Kidney problems—especially if you are taking it for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Your doctor should do blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working
  • Stomach and serious bowel problems that can sometimes be fatal—tell your doctor right away if you have any stomach area pain during treatment with Rituxan
  • Changes in blood cell counts—during treatment with Rituxan, your doctor or healthcare team should do regular blood tests to monitor your blood cell counts

What are common side effects during treatment with Rituxan?

  • infusion
    reactions
  • chills
  • infections
  • body aches
  • tiredness
  • low white blood
    cell count

Other side effects include:

  • aching joints during
    or within hours of
    receiving an infusion
  • more frequent
    upper respiratory
    tract infections

Tell your doctor 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.

Please see the Rituxan Medication Guide including most serious side effects for additional important side effect information.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.FDA.gov/medwatch. Or to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.

What does Rituxan treat?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): with another prescription medicine called methotrexate, to reduce the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe active RA in adults, after treatment with at least one other medicine called a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist has been used and did not work well enough.

People with serious infections should not receive Rituxan. It is not known if Rituxan is safe or effective in children.

Important Side Effect Information

What is the most important information I should know about Rituxan?

Rituxan can cause serious side effects that can be fatal, including:

  • Infusion reactions—infusion reactions are the most common side effect of Rituxan treatment. Serious infusion reactions can happen during or up to 24 hours after an infusion. During clinical trials, less than 1% of people taking Rituxan experienced serious infusion reactions
  • Severe skin and mouth reactions—painful sores or ulcers on your skin, lips, or in your mouth; blisters; peeling skin; rash; or small, pus-filled blisters
  • Return of hepatitis B virus (HBV)—if you previously had hepatitis B, Rituxan can cause the disease to become an active infection again, even if you are not showing any symptoms
  • PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy)—a rare but serious brain infection caused by the JC virus

What should I tell my doctor before receiving Rituxan?

It is important to tell your doctor or healthcare team if you:

  • Previously had serious infusion reactions to Rituxan
  • Have a history of other medical conditions including:
    • 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 has gotten or 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
  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Talk to your doctor about effective birth control
  • Are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed
  • Are taking or have taken other prescription or nonprescription medicines, especially anti-TNF (tumor necrosis factor) medicines or DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs)

What are the possible side effects of Rituxan?

Rituxan can cause serious and life-threatening side effects, including:

  • TLS (tumor lysis syndrome)—has occurred in patients using Rituxan to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It is caused by cancer cells breaking down and can lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis treatment or cause abnormal heart rhythm
  • Serious infections—these can happen during and after treatment and can be fatal. During clinical trials, 2% of people taking Rituxan developed serious infections
  • Heart problems—Rituxan may cause chest pain and irregular heartbeat. Your doctor or healthcare team may provide treatment or decide to stop treating with Rituxan if you experience these symptoms
  • Kidney problems—especially if you are taking it for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Your doctor should do blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working
  • Stomach and serious bowel problems that can sometimes be fatal—tell your doctor right away if you have any stomach area pain during treatment with Rituxan
  • Changes in blood cell counts—during treatment with Rituxan, your doctor or healthcare team should do regular blood tests to monitor your blood cell counts

What are common side effects during treatment with Rituxan?

  • infusion
    reactions
  • chills
  • infections
  • body aches
  • tiredness
  • low white blood
    cell count

Other side effects include:

  • aching joints during
    or within hours of
    receiving an infusion
  • more frequent
    upper respiratory
    tract infections

Tell your doctor 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.

Please see the Rituxan Medication Guide including most serious side effects for additional important side effect information.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.FDA.gov/medwatch. Or to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.

The people featured on this site are members of the Rituxan Ambassador program, which is sponsored by Genentech USA, Inc. and Biogen Idec Inc. Genentech compensates the Ambassadors for their time and expense while presenting their stories.