Peri-infusional adverse reactions to rituximab in patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Arch Med Res. 2013 Oct;44(7):549-54. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2013.09.011. Epub 2013 Oct 8.


Background and aims: Rituximab is effective in the treatment of B-cell lymphoid malignances and some autoimmune diseases. Most patients receiving the first infusion of rituximab experience symptoms that decrease with subsequent infusions. It is assumed that the first dose of rituximab should be infused slowly during a 6-h period and during 4-h periods subsequently. The aim of the study was to evaluate the frequency and severity of adverse reactions to rituximab in patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Methods: This was an intensive pharmacovigilance prospective, observational, open labeled, multicenter cohort study conducted in 12 hospitals. Adults requiring treatment with rituximab (375 mg/m(2) body surface area) alone or with chemotherapy were included. Adverse reactions were graded according to the National Cancer Institute scale, whereas causality was established using the Naranjo algorithm. Infusions were classified as fast (0-90 min) and slow (>91 min). Fast infusions were used to analyze the associated adverse reactions.

Results: We included 550 adult patients. Total infusion episodes were 1,749 and 52 adverse reactions were reported in 22 patients (4%). Thirty-one of 52 adverse reactions occurred during the first infusion. The risk of adverse reactions was lower with the fast infusions (10/52 adverse reactions [19.23%]). All adverse effects were mild. Twenty-three adverse effects were possibly related to rituximab.

Conclusions: Rituximab can be infused at a fast rate without an increase in adverse reactions. Peri-infusional adverse reactions are similar to those described for other populations but the incidence rate is lower. Rituximab has a favorable safety profile in patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Keywords: Adverse reaction; Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; Pharmacovigilance; Rituximab.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived / adverse effects*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacovigilance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rituximab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Rituximab