Prescription onlyNo lower cost generic available

Rituxan

(Rituximab)

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Calms down your immune system.

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Prescription onlyNo lower cost generic available

Our pharmacists’ bottom line

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.

  • 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.
  • 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).

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Side effects for Rituxan (Rituximab)

From clinical trials of Rituxan / Any condition 

  • Any infectionAny infection62% for Rituximab vs.0% for placebo
  • Any infectionAny infection39% for Rituximab vs.34% for placebo
  • Infusion reactionInfusion reaction12% for Rituximab vs.0% for placebo
  • Any serious infectionAny serious infection11% for Rituximab vs.0% for placebo
  • Any serious infectionAny serious infection2% for Rituximab vs.1% for placebo
  • Cardiac side effectCardiac side effect2% for Rituximab vs.1% for placebo

What to expect when you take Rituxan (Rituximab)

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Tips from our pharmacists
  • 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).

Risks and Warnings for Rituxan (Rituximab)

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  • Serious infusion reactions can occur at the time Rituxan (Rituximab) is given and within 24 hours. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you notice itching, sudden cough, dizziness, racing heartbeat, chest pain, or angioedema (life-threatening condition with swelling with or without hives). Your doctor can prescribe medication before your dose so the risk of having this happen is less.

    This is a black box warning. The FDA requires this warning when there is a significant risk of serious or life-threatening effects that anyone taking the drug should consider.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Tips from pharmacists and people taking Rituxan (Rituximab)

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The FDA category for this medication is C. It is advised that you: Weigh risks vs. benefits
Pregnancy
Kidneys & liver
  • Upsides and downsides from our pharmacists
  • Discuss with your doctor the serious heart, kidney, liver, or stomach problems that can happen while on Rituxan (Rituximab).
  • Risks from our pharmacists
  • 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.
Weight gain or loss
  • Risks from our pharmacists
  • 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.