To describe the incidence, types and severity of adverse events, related to an accelerated regime of rituximab infusion in patients with various autoimmune diseases. Fifty-four patients with systemic autoimmune disease, to be treated with 1,000 mg of rituximab twice 2 weeks apart, participated. Pre-medication (oral prednisolone, anti-histamine and paracetamol) was administered 1-4 h before infusion start. The first infusion was administered over a period of 195 min. The second infusion over a period of 90 min. Any adverse events were classified using the Clinical Trials Classification of Adverse Events (CTCAE) v. 3.0. Ten patients (18.5%) experienced at least one infusion-related reaction (IRR) ever. The first infusion was associated with reactions in 4 CTCAE categories of which rhinitis were the most frequent. The CTCAE severity grading showed six patients (11.1%) had a grade 1 reaction. One patient (1.8%) had grade 2 events on both infusions and two patients (3.6%) had a grade 3 event on both infusions. RA patients more often had an infusion-related reaction (IRR) (9.2%) than the rest. The types of IRR were mostly of allergic or angio-oedematic nature. In practise, the rapid infusion was an easy to use regime and the second infusion is of time sparing significance to health professionals. No unexpected side effects were observed in relation to the accelerated regime.
Rheumatology International, 2013, Vol 33, Issue 2, p. 529-533