Rituxan Side Effects

Fever, infections, and nausea are among the common side effects of Rituxan. However, most people are able to use this medication without any problems. If you develop any serious side effects while using this drug, such as a rash of any kind, decreased urination, or speech difficulties, tell your healthcare provider right away.

An Introduction to Rituxan Side Effects

Just like any medicine, Rituxan® (rituximab) can cause side effects. However, not everyone who uses the medication will have problems. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider. However, serious reactions have also been known to occur.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with Rituxan. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)

Common Side Effects of Rituxan

Rituxan has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials. In some of these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people who were given Rituxan were documented and then compared to the side effects that occurred in a similar group of people given a placebo (in this case, an injection with no active ingredient).
As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred, how often they appeared, and how they compared to the group given the placebo. In some studies (such as cancer studies), it would have been unethical to use a placebo; in these cases, placebos were not used.
Some of the studies treated people with just Rituxan, while other studies combined Rituxan with other medications, such as methotrexate or chemotherapy medications. To help distinguish between the side effects caused by Rituxan and the side effects probably caused by the other medications, the following information was taken only from studies that used Rituxan alone, without combining it with other medications.
The most common Rituxan side effects that were reported in clinical trials included:
  • Fever -- in up to 53 percent of people
  • Low lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) -- up to 48 percent
  • Chills -- up to 33 percent
  • Infections -- up to 31 percent
  • General weakness -- up to 26 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 23 percent
  • Headaches -- up to 19 percent
  • Diarrhea -- up to 17 percent
  • Muscle spasms -- up to 17 percent
  • Anemia -- up to 16 percent
  • Swelling (water retention) in the hands or feet -- up to 16 percent 
  • Night sweats -- up to 15 percent
  • Rash -- up to 15 percent.
Other common side effects (seen in 5 to 14 percent of people) included:
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • Back pain
  • General pain
  • Throat irritation
  • Flushing
  • Low white blood cells
  • Low blood platelets
  • Low neutrophils (a certain type of white blood cell)  
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Sinus infections
  • High blood sugar
  • Increased LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol)
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) or low blood pressure (hypotension)


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Rituxan Medication Information

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