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Rituxan

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/12/2018
Rituxan Patient Information Including Side Effects

Brand Names: Rituxan

Generic Name: rituximab (Pronunciation: ri TUX i mab)

What is rituximab (Rituxan)?

Rituximab is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Rituximab is used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Rituximab is also used in combination with another drug called methotrexate to treat symptoms of adult rheumatoid arthritis.

Rituximab is also used in combination with steroid medicines to treat certain rare disorders that cause inflammation of blood vessels and other tissues in the body.

Rituximab may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of rituximab (Rituxan)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; chest tightness, trouble breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some people receiving a rituximab injection have had a reaction to the infusion (within 24 hours after the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, weak, light-headed, short of breath, or if you have chest pain, wheezing, sudden cough, or pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest.

Rituximab increases the risk of a serious viral infection of the brain that can lead to disability or death. Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as confusion, trouble concentrating, problems with speech or walking, vision problems, or weakness on one side of your body.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these other serious side effects, even if they occur several months after you receive rituximab, or after your treatment ends.

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, feeling weak or tired;
  • ongoing cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat;
  • headache, earache, painful mouth ulcers, skin sores, warmth or swelling with skin redness;
  • pain or burning when you urinate, urinating less than usual;
  • severe skin rash with blistering, itching, peeling, or pus;
  • weak pulse, fainting, overactive reflexes;
  • muscle weakness, tightness, or contraction; or
  • lower back pain, blood in your urine, numbness or tingly feeling around your mouth.

Other common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about rituximab (Rituxan)?

You should not receive this medication if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to rituximab.

Some people receiving a rituximab injection have had a reaction to the infusion (within 24 hours after the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, weak, light-headed, short of breath, or if you have chest pain, wheezing, sudden cough, or pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest.

If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms after you stop using this medication, even months after stopping.

Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of a serious viral infection of the brain, such as: confusion, trouble concentrating, problems with speech or walking, vision problems, or weakness on one side of your body.

Rituxan Patient Information including How Should I Take

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving rituximab (Rituxan)?

You should not receive this medication if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to rituximab, or if you are allergic to mouse protein.

To make sure you can safely use rituximab, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether rituximab will harm an unborn baby. Rituximab can affect the immune system of a newborn if the mother receives the medication during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Use effective birth control while you are using this medication and for at least 12 months after your treatment ends.

It is not known whether rituximab passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not receive rituximab without telling your doctor if you are breast feeding a baby.

How is rituximab given (Rituxan)?

Rituximab is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Before you receive rituximab, you may be given other medications to prevent certain side effects that rituximab can cause.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using rituximab.

While using rituximab, you may need frequent blood tests at your doctor's office.

If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms after you stop using this medication, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver function for several months after you stop using rituximab.

Rituxan Patient Information including If I Miss a Dose

What happens if I miss a dose (Rituxan)?

Call your doctor if you miss an appointment for your rituximab injection.

What happens if I overdose (Rituxan)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while receiving rituximab (Rituxan)?

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using rituximab, and avoid coming into contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus could be passed on to you. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), oral polio, rotavirus, smallpox, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), oral typhoid vaccine, and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

What other drugs will affect rituximab (Rituxan)?

Tell your doctor about all medications you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with rituximab, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with rituximab, including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about rituximab.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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