What Is Rituximab Used For?
Rituximab can help treat certain types of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. It is also approved to treat Wegener's granulomatosis and microscopic polyangiitis. At this time, it is approved for adults only. Occasionally, a healthcare provider may recommend the drug for something other than the conditions it is licensed to treat. For example, possible off-label rituximab uses could include the treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
An Introduction to the Uses of RituximabRituximab (Rituxan®) is a prescription medication licensed for the treatment of the following medical conditions:
- Moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis, when combined with methotrexate (Rheumatrex®, Trexall®)
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA).
Using Rituximab for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. This means that for some reason, the immune system mistakes a person's own cells as invaders and attacks them, causing damage. Similar to other autoimmune diseases, scientists still do not know the causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
There are many rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, including chronic pain, along with tender, warm, and swollen joints. Treatment usually includes medications. There are four different types of rheumatoid arthritis medications, including:
- Analgesics (pain relievers), including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Biological response modifiers (sometimes known as biological DMARDs).
Rituximab is a biological response modifier, which means it targets (and "modifies") specific parts of the immune system. It is approved for use in combination with methotrexate in people who have unsuccessfully tried one or more tumor necrosis factor blockers (TNF blockers), which are a different subset of the biological response modifiers. TNF blockers include:
- Adalimumab (Humira®)
- Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia®)
- Etanercept (Enbrel®)
- Golimumab (Simponi™)
- Infliximab (Remicade®).
Not all of these TNF blockers are approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis.