What is rituximab and why is it prescribed?
Rituximab (trade name: MabThera) is a type of drug called a biological therapy. In some conditions, B-cells in the body produce harmful autoantibodies which attack the body's own tissues. Rituximab works by depleting the B-cells to reduce inflammation and improve your symptoms.
If rituximab works for you, you should start to feel better within 2–16 weeks.
Riruximab can be prescribed by a rheumatologist for:
Are there any reasons I won't be prescribed rituximab?
Rituximab won't be started if:
- the disease isn't active
- you've not tried other treatments appropriate for your condition first
- you have an infection.
Your doctor may decide not to prescribe rituximab if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, or if:
- you have severe heart problems
- you get short of breath very easily
- your B-cell or antibody levels are low
- you have seronegative rheumatoid arthritis (with no rheumatoid factor and no anti-CCP antibodies).
You'll have blood tests to check your antibody and possibly your B-cell levels before treatment and every few months afterwards. Your doctor may also check for previous hepatitis infection as rituximab may increase the risk of hepatitis being reactivated.