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Infusion Reactions: Rituxan administration can result in serious, including fatal infusion reactions. Deaths within 24 hours of Rituxan infusion have occurred. Approximately 80% of fatal infusion reactions occurred in association with the first infusion. Monitor patients closely. Discontinue Rituxan infusion for severe reactions and provide medical treatment for Grade 3 or 4 infusion reactions.
Severe Mucocutaneous Reactions: Severe, including fatal, mucocutaneous reactions can occur in patients receiving Rituxan. Discontinue Rituxan in patients who experience a severe mucocutaneous reaction. The safety of readministration of Rituxan to patients with severe mucocutaneous reactions has not been determined.
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Reactivation: HBV reactivation can occur in patients treated with Rituxan, in some cases resulting in fulminant hepatitis, hepatic failure, and death. Screen all patients for HBV infection before treatment initiation, and monitor patients during and after treatment with Rituxan. Discontinue Rituxan and concomitant medications in the event of HBV reactivation.
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML), including fatal PML, can occur in patients receiving Rituxan. Discontinue Rituxan and consider discontinuation or reduction of any concomitant chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy in patients who develop PML.
Tumor Lysis Syndrome (TLS): Acute renal failure, hyperkalemia, hypocalcemia, hyperuricemia, or hyperphosphatemia from tumor lysis, sometimes fatal, can occur within 12-24 hours after the first infusion of Rituxan in patients with Non–Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). Administer aggressive intravenous hydration and anti-hyperuricemic therapy in patients at high risk for TLS. Correct electrolyte abnormalities, monitor renal function and fluid balance, and administer supportive care, including dialysis, as indicated.
Infections: Serious, including fatal, bacterial, fungal, and new or reactivated viral infections can occur during and following the completion of Rituxan-based therapy. Discontinue Rituxan for serious infections and institute appropriate anti-infective therapy. Rituxan is not recommended for use in patients with severe, active infections.
Cardiovascular Adverse Reactions: Discontinue infusions for serious or life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Perform cardiac monitoring during and after all infusions of Rituxan for patients who develop clinically significant arrhythmias or who have a history of arrhythmia or angina.
Renal Toxicity: Severe, including fatal, renal toxicity can occur after Rituxan administration in patients with Non–Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). Monitor closely for signs of renal failure and discontinue Rituxan in patients with a rising serum creatinine or oliguria.
Bowel Obstruction and Perforation: Abdominal pain, bowel obstruction and perforation, in some cases leading to death, can occur in patients receiving Rituxan in combination with chemotherapy. Evaluate if symptoms of obstruction such as abdominal pain or repeated vomiting occur.
Immunization: The safety of immunization with live viral vaccines following Rituxan therapy has not been studied, and vaccination with live vaccines is not recommended before or during treatment. For RA patients, physicians should follow current immunization guidelines and administer non-live vaccines at least 4 weeks prior to a course of Rituxan.
Embryo-Fetal Toxicity: Rituxan can cause fetal harm due to B-cell lymphocytopenia in infants exposed to Rituxan in-utero. Advise pregnant women of the risk to a fetus. Females of childbearing potential should use effective contraception while receiving Rituxan and for 12 months following the last dose of Rituxan.
Concomitant Use With Biologic Agents and DMARDs Other Than Methotrexate: Limited data are available on the safety of the use of biologic agents or DMARDs other than methotrexate in RA patients exhibiting peripheral B-cell depletion following treatment with Rituxan. Observe patients closely for signs of infection if biologic agents and/or DMARDs are used concomitantly.
Use in Patients With RA Who Had No Prior Inadequate Response to TNF Antagonists: The use of Rituxan in patients with RA who have not had prior inadequate response to one or more TNF antagonists is not recommended.
Clinical Trials Experience in RA
Among all exposed patients, adverse reactions reported in greater than 10% of patients include infusion-related reactions, upper respiratory tract infection, nasopharyngitis, urinary tract infection, and bronchitis.
In placebo-controlled studies, adverse reactions reported in ≥5% of patients were hypertension (8% vs 5%), nausea (8% vs 5%), upper respiratory tract infection (7% vs 6%), arthralgia (6% vs 4%), pyrexia (5% vs 2%), and pruritus (5% vs 1%) in Rituxan-treated vs placebo-treated patients, respectively.
Infusion Reactions: In the Rituxan RA pooled, placebo-controlled studies, incidence of any adverse event within 24 hours of an infusion was 32% vs 23% after the first infusion and 11% vs 13% after the second infusion in the Rituxan-treated patients and placebo group, respectively. Incidence of acute infusion reactions was 27% vs 19% after the first infusion and 9% vs 11% after the second infusion in the Rituxan-treated patients and placebo group, respectively. Serious acute infusion reactions were experienced by <1% of patients in either treatment group. Acute infusion reactions required dose modification (stopping, slowing, or interruption of the infusion) in 10% and 2% of patients receiving Rituxan or placebo, respectively, after the first course.
Infections: In the pooled, placebo-controlled studies, incidence of any type of infection was 39% vs 34%, Rituxan-treated vs placebo, respectively. The most common infections were nasopharyngitis, upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, bronchitis, and sinusitis. The incidence of serious infections was 2% vs 1%, Rituxan-treated vs placebo group, respectively.
In the experience with Rituxan in 2578 RA patients, the rate of serious infection was 4.31 per 100 patient-years. The most common serious infections (≥0.5%) were pneumonia or lower respiratory tract infections, cellulitis, and urinary tract infections. Fatal serious infections included pneumonia, sepsis, and colitis. Rates of serious infection remain stable in patients receiving subsequent courses.
In 185 Rituxan-treated RA patients with active disease, subsequent treatment with a biologic DMARD, the majority of which were TNF antagonists, did not appear to increase the rate of serious infection.
Cardiovascular Adverse Reactions: In the pooled, placebo-controlled studies, incidence of serious cardiovascular reactions was 1.7% vs 1.3%, Rituxan-treated vs placebo, respectively. Three cardiovascular deaths occurred during the double-blind period of the RA studies including all Rituxan regimens (3/769=0.4%) compared to none in the placebo treatment group (0/389). In the experience with Rituxan in 2578 RA patients, the rate of myocardial infarction (MI) was consistent with MI rates in the general RA population. Rituxan should be discontinued in the event of a serious or life-threatening cardiac event.
Hypophosphatemia and Hyperuricemia: In the pooled, placebo-controlled studies, newly occurring hypophosphatemia (<2.0 mg/dL) was 12% vs 10%, Rituxan-treated vs placebo, respectively. Hypophosphatemia was more common in patients who received corticosteroids. Newly occurring hyperuricemia (>10 mg/dL) was observed in 1.5% vs 0.3%, Rituxan-treated vs placebo, respectively.
A total of 273/2578 (11%) patients with RA tested positive for anti-rituximab antibodies at any time after receiving Rituxan. Anti-rituximab antibody positivity was not associated with increased rates of infusion-related reactions or other adverse events. Upon further treatment, the proportions of patients with infusion reactions were similar between anti-rituximab antibody positive and negative patients, and most reactions were mild to moderate. Four anti-rituximab antibody positive patients had serious infusion reactions, and the temporal relationship between anti-rituximab antibody positivity and infusion reaction was variable. The clinical relevance of anti-rituximab antibody formation in Rituxan-treated patients is unclear.
For additional Important Safety Information, please see the Rituxan full Prescribing Information, including BOXED WARNINGS.
Attention Healthcare Provider: Provide Medication Guide to patient prior to Rituxan infusion.