Rituxan, discovered by Biogen Idec, first received FDA approval in November 1997 for the treatment of relapsed or refractory, low-grade or follicular, CD20-positive, B-cell NHL as a single agent. It was approved in the European Union under the trade name MabThera in June 1998.

INDICATIONS

Rituxan® (rituximab) is indicated for the treatment of patients with:
  • Relapsed or refractory, low-grade or follicular, CD20-positive, B-cell NHL as a single agent
  • Previously untreated follicular, CD20-positive, B-cell NHL in combination with first-line chemotherapy and, in patients achieving a complete or partial response to Rituxan in combination with chemotherapy, as single-agent maintenance therapy
  • Non-progressing (including stable disease), low-grade, CD20-positive, B-cell NHL, as a single agent, after first-line CVP chemotherapy
  • Previously untreated diffuse large B-cell, CD20-positive NHL in combination with CHOP or other anthracycline-based chemotherapy regimens
  • Previously untreated and previously treated CD20-positive CLL in combination with fludarabine and cyclophosphamide (FC)

Rituxan is not recommended for use in patients with severe, active infections.

Important Safety Information:

Rituxan can cause serious side effects that can lead to death, including: infusion reactions, tumor lysis syndrome (kidney failure due to fast breakdown of cancer cells), severe skin and mouth reactions, and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (a rare, serious brain infection).

Rituxan has also been associated with serious and life threatening side effects, including: the return of active hepatitis B virus infection with sudden and serious liver problems including liver failure, and death, other serious infections that can lead to death, heart problems, kidney problems, and stomach and serious bowel problems including blockage and tears in the bowel, that can sometimes lead to death.

The most common side effects of Rituxan seen in patients with NHL were infusion reactions, fever, chills, low white blood cells, infections, body aches, and tiredness. The most common side effects of Rituxan in patients with CLL were infusion reactions and low white blood cells. Patients should talk to their doctor about their medical history before starting treatment with Rituxan.

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