Systemic Lupus Erythematosus :: Safety concern regarding Rituxan in systemic lupus erythematosus
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting health care professionals and patients treated with Rituxan (rituximab) to reports of an emerging risk of a serious side effect in patients receiving or who have used Rituxan.
FDA recently learned that two patients who were treated with Rituxan for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) developed progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a fatal viral infection of the central nervous system. This side effect has been reported in patients as late as 12 months after their last dose of Rituxan.
SLE is not an approved indication for Rituxan. Rituxan is approved only for the treatment of patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and patients with rheumatoid arthritis whose disease no longer responds to other common treatments.
“Rituxan is used in both approved and off-label settings, and therefore it is very important for prescribers as well as patients to be aware of these new reports of the risk of PML,” said Dr. Steven Galson, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Patients who are being treated or have been treated with Rituxan who experience any major changes in vision, balance, or coordination, or who experience confusion, should promptly call their doctor.”