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IMPORTANT: HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION: This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.
RITUXIMAB - INJECTION
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Rituxan
WARNING: Rituximab may infrequently cause serious (sometimes fatal) side effects including severe breathing problems (e.g., hypoxia, pulmonary infiltrates, acute respiratory distress syndrome) or heart problems (e.g., heart attack, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure). These effects are more likely if you already have had a serious reaction to rituximab. Your doctor will carefully watch you during treatment and may stop or slow down your treatment if you have any signs of a reaction. If these serious side effects occur, they will usually happen within two hours from the start of your first treatment (IV infusion) with rituximab. However, severe side effects might occur during any rituximab treatment, or several weeks to months after your last treatment, so keep all your follow-up appointments. Seek immediate medical attention if you have trouble breathing (e.g., cough, wheezing), itching, swelling (especially of the throat/lips), dizziness, fast/slow/irregular heartbeat, or chest pain. See also the How To Use section.
Rarely, people taking this medication have had serious (sometimes fatal) skin reactions (such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome). Get medical help right away if you develop any rash, blisters, peeling skin, or sores on your skin, lips, or in your mouth.
Rarely, a serious (sometimes fatal) brain infection (Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy-PML) has occurred in people taking this medication. Seek immediate medical attention if you develop any signs of PML, including vision problems, loss of balance/coordination, or confusion.
Rituximab may cause serious (possibly fatal) liver disease in people who have a current or past infection with hepatitis B. This may occur during treatment or up to 2 years after treatment is finished. Before starting treatment with this medication, your doctor may order a test to see if you have the hepatitis B infection. Your doctor may also order blood tests and watch for symptoms of liver disease during treatment and for months after your last dose of this medication. Get medical help right away if you have any symptoms of liver damage, including: persistent nausea/vomiting, severe stomach/abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin.
USES: Rituximab is used alone or with other medications to treat certain types of cancer (e.g., non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). It is a type of medication called a monoclonal antibody. It works by attaching to certain blood cells from your immune system (B cells) and killing them. It is also used with other monoclonal antibodies and radioactive drugs to treat certain cancers.
Rituximab is also used with methotrexate to treat moderate-to-severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis. It is usually used for arthritis only after other medications have not worked. It can decrease joint pain and swelling. It is also used to treat certain types of blood vessel disease (such as Wegener's granulomatosis, microscopic polyangiitis).
HOW TO USE: Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using rituximab and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Your doctor should prescribe other medications (such as acetaminophen, an antihistamine, methylprednisolone) for you to take before each treatment to help reduce side effects, such as fever and chills. Carefully follow your doctor's instructions.
This medication is given by slow injection into a vein by a health care professional as directed by your doctor. The dosage and treatment schedule are based on your medical condition, other medications you may be taking, and response to treatment.
Ask your doctor if you should take your regular medications (e.g., drugs for high blood pressure) before your treatment.
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