"Oct. 24, 2012 -- It is not a desired discussion for the doctor, and certainly not for the patient. But an overwhelming majority of people with advanced cancer are under the impression that the chemotherapy they are receiving will cure their disea"...
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, serious (sometimes fatal) skin reactions (e.g., Stevens-Johnson syndrome) have occurred in people taking this medication. Seek immediate medical attention if you develop any rash, blisters, peeling skin, or sores. These reactions can occur weeks to months after your treatment has ended.
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.
When large numbers of cancer cells are killed quickly, kidney failure can occur because the kidneys can have trouble getting rid of the dead cells. Tell your doctor immediately if there is a large change in the amount of urine, which could be a sign of a kidney problem. The risk is greater within the first 1-2 days after your treatment is begun. Kidney failure is more likely if you have a large number of cancer cells in the blood, a large tumor, or are being treated with cis-platinum. Laboratory tests (e.g., electrolytes, kidney function) may be performed to monitor your progress and check for side effects.
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.
This medication will be given by injection into a vein as directed by your doctor. It should be injected slowly over several hours. Do not shake the IV liquid. After adding the drug to the IV fluid, gently turn the bag upside down and over to mix the drug into the liquid. The dose and how often you receive the medication depends on your condition, other treatments, and response to therapy. If you are being treated for cancer, you will receive one or more doses, usually once a week. If you are being treated for arthritis, you will usually receive 2 doses, usually 2 weeks apart.
Your doctor should prescribe other medications (e.g., acetaminophen, diphenhydramine, methylprednisolone) for you to use 30 minutes before the start of each treatment to help prevent serious side effects. Your dose will be started slowly, and the rate will be increased if you are tolerating the medication well.
If you are giving this medication to yourself at home, learn all preparation and usage instructions from your health care professional. Before using, check this product visually for particles or discoloration. If either is present, do not use the liquid. Learn how to store and discard medical supplies safely.
Ask your doctor if you should take your regular medications (e.g., drugs for high blood pressure) before your treatment.
Additional Rituxan Information
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