Rituximab is available for
intravenous (IV) use.
How It Works
Rituximab belongs to a group of medicines
monoclonal antibodies. It is designed to recognize
specific proteins that are found on the surface of some lymphoma cells. The
monoclonal antibody recognizes the protein and locks onto it (like a key in a
lock). This may then trigger the body's immune system to attack and destroy the
Why It Is Used
Rituximab may be used alone or in combination with
other chemotherapy medicines to treat
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and
chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Rituximab is used
with ibritumomab as part of targeted radiation therapy.
is also used to treat
autoimmune diseases such as
rheumatoid arthritis. It is often used in combination
with other medicines such as methotrexate.
How Well It Works
Rituximab is an effective treatment
for NHL and CLL. It is used in combination with other chemotherapy
Rituximab can decrease
rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as tender and swollen joints.
Side effects of rituximab are common and
In some cases, rituximab has been
associated with serious side effects such as breathing difficulty, heart
problems, or severe infection. For this reason, the use of rituximab is closely
Rituximab may make heart damage worse in people who
already have heart disease. Frequent tests are needed to monitor heart function
while this medicine is taken.
In some people who have a history of
hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, rituximab may cause
the virus to begin multiplying again, leading to severe liver problems. These
people should have tests to monitor liver function during and for several
months following rituximab treatment. Also, people who have a high risk of HBV
infection should be screened before starting treatment with rituximab to make
sure an HBV infection is not present.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Rituximab may cause birth
defects. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or if you wish to become
pregnant or father a child while you are taking it.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
Current as of
||March 12, 2014