Side Effects of Rituxan for MS Treatment May Carry Increased Infection Risks: Study

Patients taking Rituxan to treat multiple sclerosis may face a higher risk of suffering a serious infection than those taking other types of treatments, according to the findings of a new study that raises concerns about side effects of the MS treatment conducted in Sweden.

In findings published last week in the medical journal JAMA Neurology, Swedish researchers found that many new MS medications carried a risk of infection, with the highest risk linked to Rituxan.

Researchers focused on the risk of infection for various treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS). Those included interferon beta glatiramer acetate, as well as newer treatments including Gilenya, Tysabri, and Rituxan. All three drugs weaken the immune system, making patients more susceptible to infection.

Did You Know?

AT&T Data Breach Impacts Millions of Customers

More than 73 million customers of AT&T may have had their names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other information released on the dark web due to a massive AT&T data breach. Lawsuits are being pursued to obtain financial compensation.

Learn More

The study used data from a national cohort involving patients with multiple sclerosis in Sweden from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2017. This included national registers with prospective data collection from the public health care system among Swedish patients with relapsing-remitting MS whose data were recorded in the Swedish MS register as beginning treatment with one of four treatments.

A control group was matched by age and sex to compare risk factors. There was a total of 6,400 patients taking MS medications compared to a control group of 42,000 patients.

The infection rate was higher in patients with MS taking interferon beta than the control group. However, the infection rate was even higher among patients taking any of the three newer drugs studied, Rituxan, Gilenya, and Tysabri, compared to the control group.

After adjusting for other risk factors, researchers concluded the infection rate remained high for Rituxan, but not for Gilenya and Tysabri.

Additionally, the researchers found that patients using herpes antiviral drugs while taking Rituxan treatment had a similar risk of infection as those taking only interferon beta, but that risk was lower if they were taking either of the other two drugs Gilenya or Tysabri.

The research indicated the rate of infection was lowest among injectable therapies, but among new treatments like Rituxan, the risk of serious infection was the highest.

Infection data is largely unavailable for Rituxan, known as an anti-CD20 antibody. Rituxan was originally a cancer drug, but is approved for rheumatoid arthritis and other immune-mediated diseases, but not MS. However, it is often used off-label to treat MS, which is why there isn’t much information regarding how it affects MS patients.

0 Comments

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Want your comments reviewed by a lawyer?

To have an attorney review your comments and contact you about a potential case, provide your contact information below. This will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Leadership Development Committee for Suboxone Dental Injury Lawyers Established in Federal MDL
Leadership Development Committee for Suboxone Dental Injury Lawyers Established in Federal MDL (Posted today)

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all Suboxone lawsuits has created a mentorship program to use the litigation to provide some attorneys an opportunity to gain experience in handling complex federal multidistrict litigations.

Gilead Settlement Resolves 2,625 HIV Drug Lawsuits Pending in Federal Courts for $40M
Gilead Settlement Resolves 2,625 HIV Drug Lawsuits Pending in Federal Courts for $40M (Posted 2 days ago)

Gilead says it will pay $40 million to resolve HIV drug lawsuits over Truvada, Atripla, Viread, Stribild and Complera pending in the federal court system, involving claims that the the company sat on safer formulations of the drugs for years to increase profits.