Posted by: Thixia | April 20, 2008

Rituxan: Medicinal Information

Brand Name




Common Name




How does this medication work? What will it do for me?


Rituximab belongs to the group of cancer-fighting medications known as anti-neoplastics.  It is used for the treatment of a cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  It fights this cancer by seeking out and killing the specific types of cancer cells associated with it.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than the ones listed in these drug information articles.  If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor.  Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.



How should I use this medication?



The recommended dose and dosing schedule of rituximab varies according to body size. It is injected into a vein through a specially prepared site on your skin. The appropriate dose is usually injected once a week for 4 weeks in the hospital.


Very careful handling of this medication is required. It is always given under the supervision of a doctor in a hospital or similar setting with access to sterile equipment for preparation.


Many things can affect the dose and schedule of medication that a person needs, such as body size, other medical conditions, and other medications. Your doctor may choose a schedule different from the one above.


The use of rituximab can cause various side effects. It often causes nausea, but it is important to keep using this medication even if you feel ill, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist can advise you on how to reduce the effects of nausea and vomiting. Keep track of any side effects and report them to your doctor as suggested in the section, “What side effects are possible with this medication?”


Store this medication in the refrigerator and protect it from sunlight.



What form(s) does this medication come in?



Each mL of sterile, clear, colourless liquid concentrate for i.v. administration contains rituximab 10 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: hydrochloric acid, polysorbate 80, sodium chloride, sodium citrate, sodium hydroxide and water for injection.

Some medications may have other generic brands available. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist about the safety of switching between brands of the same medication.


Who should NOT take this medication?



Rituximab should not be used by anyone who is allergic to rituximab, mouse proteins, or any of the ingredients of this medication.



What side effects are possible with this medication?



Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.


The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.


Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.


Less common



·     abdominal or stomach pain

·     agitation or anxiety

·     bloating of the stomach

·     change in taste sensation

·     difficulty sleeping

·     dry eyes

·     general feeling of discomfort or illness

·     heartburn



Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.


Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:



More common



·     dizziness

·     feeling of swelling of tongue and throat

·     fever and chills

·     flushing of face

·     headache

·     itching

·     nausea

·     runny nose

·     shortness of breath

·     skin rash

·     unusual tiredness

·     vomiting

·     Less Common

·     black, tarry stools

·     blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin

·     blisters in the mouth

·     blisters on the trunk, scalp, or other areas

·     blood in urine or stools

·     confusion

·     cough or hoarseness

·     decreased frequency and amount of urination

·     increased thirst

·     joint or muscle pain

·     loose, watery stool or diarrhea

·     loss of appetite

·     lower back or side pain

·     muscle cramps

·     nervousness

·     numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or lips

·     pain at place of injection

·     painful or difficult urination

·     palpitations or heart flutter

·     pinpoint-sized red spots on skin

·     red, itchy lining of eye

·     red skin lesions, often with a purple center

·     sore throat

·     sores, ulcers, or white spots in mouth or on lips

·     swelling of face or fingers

·     swelling of feet or lower legs

·     unusual bleeding or bruising

·     unusual weakness

·     weight gain






·     chest pain



Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:


·     signs of liver problems such as abdominal pain , feeling of sickness, joint pain, loss of appetite, tiredness, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

·     signs and symptoms of bowel blockage such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal swelling or pain, constipation, or diarrhea

·     signs and symptoms of bowel perforation such as sudden abdominal pain (worse with movement), abdominal tenderness, high fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting.



Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.



Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.




August 8, 2007


Health Canada has issued an advisory concerning the use of Rituxan® (rituximab). (The Health Canada will be posted April 21) 


A previous advisory November 10, 2006


Health Canada has issued new restrictions concerning the use of Rituxan® (rituximab) was issued on. November 10, 2006.



Blood clotting:



This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood. Platelets help the blood to clot, and a shortage could make you bleed more easily. Tell your doctor of any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly as usual. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won’t stop bleeding.



Hepatitis B infection:



There have been very rare reports of the recurrence of hepatitis B infection in people receiving rituximab (often in combination with chemotherapy) who had previously been infected with the virus. If you are at risk of hepatitis B infection, you should have a blood test before starting therapy to check if you carry the virus. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure whether you are at risk. If you are a carrier of hepatitis B virus, had a previous infection, or are at risk of infection, you should be closely monitored during rituximab therapy and for up to one year after finishing it for signs and symptoms of hepatitis B infection. These include abdominal or joint pain, loss of appetite, feeling of sickness, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice). If you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.






As well as killing cancer cells, this medication can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). Avoid contact with people with contagious infections and tell your doctor if you begin to notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills.

Pregnancy: This medication may be harmful if used during pregnancy. Use effective birth control during treatment with this medication and for up to 12 months afterwards. Tell your doctor immediately if you become pregnant.






It is not known if rituximab passes into breast milk. Women should not breast-feed while using rituximab because of the risk to the infant.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.



What other drugs could interact with this medication?


Other cancer medications may affect how rituximab works or increase the risk of side effects. If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:


·     stop taking one of the medications,

·     change one of the medications to another,

·     change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or

·     leave everything as is.


An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. In many cases, interactions are intended or are managed by close monitoring. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.


Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.



The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and are meant to be discussed with your physician or other qualified health care professional before being acted on. Never disregard any advice given to you by your doctor or other qualified health care professional. Always seek the advice of a physician or other licensed health care professional regarding any questions you have about your medical condition(s) and treatment(s). This site is not a substitute for medical advice.  I am a patient with MS.



  1. […] associated with it. Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than the urine bag syndrome: A rare clinical entity in patients with …had observed progressive […]

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