Rituximab is used on its own or together with other medicines to treat cancer of the lymph tissues (part of the immune system) that affects a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
This medicine may also be used with other medicines to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (a type of blood cancer), rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation in joints of fingers, wrist, feet, ankles), and inflammation of the blood vessels.
Rituximab may also be used to treat pemphigus vulgaris (an autoimmune disorder that causes painful blisters on the skin and lining of the throat, nose, mouth, and genitals).
Rituximab injection is to be given intravenously (into the vein). It is delivered directly into the bloodstream via the blood vessel.
Your doctor or nurse will administer the injection for you.
Before starting your treatment, you may be given other medicines to prevent or lessen the side effects of this medicine.
The dose of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the treatment timeframe depending on the type and severity of your condition.
Ensure that you keep all appointments with your doctor so that you do not miss any doses. Your doctor also needs to regularly monitor your response to Rituximab.
If you miss an appointment or miss an injection, alert your doctor or nurse. A replacement appointment or injection should be given as soon as possible.
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- severe active infection
- weak immune system
- uncontrolled severe heart disease or severe heart failure
as Rituximab may not be suitable for you.
Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with this medicine and for at least 6 or 12 months after your last dose.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- history of hepatitis B infection, recurrent or long-term infections
- heart problems
- lung problems
- blood disorder
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant.
It is important that you do not get pregnant while being treated with Rituximab. You must use proven contraceptive methods during treatment and for at least 12 months after your last dose. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor or pharmacist.
Inform your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated. Do not receive any vaccinations without first asking your doctor.
Why is it important to keep my appointments with the doctor?
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Screening for hepatitis B virus must be done before treatment to know if this medicine is suited for you to use.
- Routine tests (e.g. complete blood counts, kidney function, electrolyte levels) may be done while you are being treated with this medicine.
- Your blood pressure may rise or fall to unsafe levels without you noticing it. Monitoring of your blood pressure during treatment may be necessary.
- Regular monitoring for signs and symptoms of allergic and immune-related reactions may also be needed.
Your doctor will advise you about how often you need to have these tests.
Rituximab may cause any of the following side effects: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, decrease in appetite, dizziness, headache, malaise, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, back pain, rash, hair loss, sweating, clogged or runny nose, and difficulty sleeping.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- yellowing of the skin or eyes, abdominal pain, dark coloured urine, tiredness, swelling in the legs and ankles
- rashes with peeling of the skin or blistering of the lips, mouth or eyes accompanied by fever
- memory loss, difficulty walking, loss of sight, trouble thinking
- unable to pass urine, blood in the urine, changes in the amount of urine passed
- shortness of breath or difficulty of breathing
- severe abdominal pain, abdominal swelling and bloating
This medicine may cause the level of your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to drop.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. A fall in the level of red blood cells may make you feel tired and worn out.
White blood cells help your body to fight infections. A fall in the level of your white blood cells may put you at higher risk for infections, such as coughs, colds and flu, which may lead to more serious infections. Avoid crowded places and people who are sick. Inform your doctor if you have a fever, or a cough or flu that does not go away.
Platelets help your blood to clot when there is a cut in the skin. A fall in the level of your platelets may put you at risk of bleeding more than usual. Do not take part in activities where you may fall or get injured, such as contact sports. Inform your doctor if you get any unusual bruising (large bruises or several bruises, especially if the bruises appeared on their own) or bleeding that takes a long time to stop (for example, too much bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth).
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in the refrigerator, between 2-8°C. Do not allow to freeze. If frozen, this medicine will become ineffective and should not be used.
Protect from light or direct sunlight.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.