Orencia vs. Rituxan

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Orencia (Abatacept) decreases inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. Orencia (Abatacept) slows the progress of rheumatoid arthritis, but can also have serious side effects.Calms down your immune system. Rituxan (Rituximab) is effective for treating multiple types of cancer and arthritis. That said, you'll need to watch for possibly serious side effects, especially infusion reactions.
How it works
Orencia (Abatacept) is called a DMARD, a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug. It prevents your body from activating cells that cause inflammation.Rituxan (Rituximab) is a monoclonal antibody. It targets a specific protein on white blood cells that makes it easier for your immune system to find and destroy cancerous cells. It also relieves symptoms and slows the progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Type of medication
Biological response modifier
Prescription only
Biological response modifier
Biological response modifier
Prescription only
Available as
  • Injection
  • Infusion (IV)
Used for (click to learn more)
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Reviews & ratings
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Side effects
  • Headache 5%
  • High blood pressure 3%
  • Common cold 3%
  • Indigestion 2%
  • Dizziness 2%
  • Back pain 1%
  • Rash 1%
  • Pain in extremity 1%
  • Cough 1%
  • Urinary tract infection 1%
More Orencia side effects »
  • Low blood phosphate 11%
  • Acute infusion reactions 8%
  • Cardiac side effect 1%
More Rituxan side effects »
Risk factors for serious side effects
        • Taking immunosuppressive medications
        • History of repeat infections
        • Adults with rheumatoid arthritis taking TNF inhibitors
        Detailed Orencia (Abatacept) risks & warnings »
          • Taking other immunosuppressant drugs
          • Age 60 or older
          • Weak immune system
          • Taking Rituxan (Rituximab) with immunosuppressant drugs (if using for RA)
          • Taking Rituxan (Rituximab) with chemotherapy (if using for NHL or CLL
          • Stem cell transplant
            • Taking Rituxan (Rituximab) for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL)
            • Rapidly growing tumors
            • History of heart problems
            • Drug interactions
            • Start of therapy with Rituxan (Rituximab)
              Detailed Rituxan (Rituximab) risks & warnings »
              Pregnancy category
              CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

              Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

              See the FDA package insert
              CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

              Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

              See the FDA package insert
              No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
              No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
              Kidneys and liver
              No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
              • Discuss with your doctor the serious heart, kidney, liver, or stomach problems that can happen while on Rituxan (Rituximab).
              • Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) happens when cancer cells are broken down very quickly and damage the kidneys. The damage can be so bad that people need dialysis. If you're taking Rituxan (Rituximab) for a cancer condition your doctor can give you medicines and take measures to prevent this reaction.
              No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
              No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
              No specific weight-related info.
              • Rituxan (Rituximab) can increase your risk of serious or life-threatening bacterial, fungal and viral infections including sepsis. In some cases infections can be reactivated from an inactive virus in your body like tuberculosis (TB) or hepatitis B virus (HBV). You may need to take medicine for TB before you can begin taking Rituxan (Rituximab). If you develop symptoms of cough, fever, chills, muscle aches, feel very tired, or you notice dark urine, yellowing of skin/eyes, appetite/weight loss, vomiting, change in stool color, stomach discomfort, and skin rash, tell your doctor and get medical care right away.
              Upsides and benefits
              • Helps minimize joint damage, lowers symptoms, and prevents future problems.
              • In a 2-year study that used IV Orencia (Abatacept) with methotrexate, more than half of the people had remission and the majority felt significantly better.
              • People taking [name-common] had no new joint damage after two years.
              • Taking Orencia (Abatacept) allows RA patients to use less prednisone, a steroid that has many side effects.
              • Orencia (Abatacept) can be used without other medications for RA.
              • Treats leukemia, lymphoma, and blood vessel inflammation.
              • Also treats moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis that hasn't responded to anti-TNF treatment (but you'll need to take methotrexate too).
              • The chance of having a reaction to the infusion is highest during your first dose, but the risk decreases each time you get Rituxan (Rituximab). It usually happens within 30 minutes to 2 hours after starting the infusion.
              • Rituxan (Rituximab) is a targeted therapy that works differently than chemotherapy. Both work well when they're taken together, especially when treating CLL and NHL.
              Downsides and risks
              • You'll have to get your blood tested regularly while taking Orencia (Abatacept).
              • You'll probably have to take other medications to help treat your RA symptoms.
              • Orencia (Abatacept) is pretty expensive.
              • The IV infusion form of Orencia (Abatacept) can cause a reaction, which ranges from a slight itching or warm feeling to more serious complications like low blood pressure and chest pain.
              • Because RA is chronic disease, you'll likely take Orencia (Abatacept) for many years.
              • Only your doctor or other trained medical staff can administer Rituxan (Rituximab), so you'll need to go into an office or clinic for every dose.
              • Not the best choice if you have heart problems.
              • Rituxan (Rituximab) can stay in your body for up to 6 months after you complete treatment. Men and women who are able to have children need to use birth control for up to one year after finishing Rituxan (Rituximab).
              • Discuss with your doctor the serious heart, kidney, liver, or stomach problems that can happen while on Rituxan (Rituximab).
              Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
              • Keep the Orencia (Abatacept) self-injection refrigerated, but let it rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before using it.
              • Each time you use Orencia (Abatacept), be sure to rotate the sites you chose to inject it in. Don't inject it where your skin is tender, bruised, red, or scaly.
              • If you decide to go with the IV version of Orencia (Abatacept), you will only need to get infusions once a month. The self-injections however need to be taken once a week.
              • If you get the IV infusion, stay hydrated, try to relax, and ask your nurse to apply dry heat (instant warm packs) to your arm to help find your good veins.
              • Rituxan (Rituximab) is given as an IV infusion by trained medical staff in a clinic or hospital.
              • You'll need to be monitored in the clinic in case you have a serious or life-threatening reaction during the infusion, but you can take other medications that'll lower your risk of this happening.
              • It's very important that you read the Medication Guide before you start taking Rituxan (Rituximab).
              • Rituxan (Rituximab) lowers your immune system's ability to fight infections, so it's important to let your doctor know if you notice a fever, a cough that doesn't go away, or flu-like symptoms.
              • Use effective birth control while you're taking Rituxan (Rituximab) and for 12 months after you finish treatment.
              • Don't get live vaccines while you're taking Rituxan (Rituximab).
              Learn more
              More about OrenciaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
              More about RituxanSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert