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Old 01-06-2016, 07:05 PM
MS Yoda
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Colorado
Posts: 963
Default Rituximab Therapy

Rituximab, brand name Rituxin by Genentech and Biogen, is an immuno suppresant that has been shown to be effective in both the relapsing and progressive forms of MS. It has only passed through phase I and II trials of the FDA approval process before trials were halted and thus has never been approved by the FDA for use in people with MS. The patent on Rituxin either has or will be expiring soon, hopefully it will continue to be available or be picked up by a generic manufacturer. Genentec is currently running a phase III trial for FDA approval of Ocrelizumab for MS which targets the same immune system CD 20, B cells as Rituxin and which is proving to be highly effective for both relapsing and progressive forms of MS, although not necessarily any more effective than Rituxin nor with any better safety profile.

Oddly, NMSS does not have any information on rituximab, possibly because it isn't FDA approved for use in people with MS. But then, even more oddly, NMSS does have quite a bit of information on the use of marijuana in people with MS in spite of it's never having been approved by the FDA and in spite of it's still being illegal at the federal level. But enough editorializing. Fortunately MSAA does have some information worth reading on rituximab.

For a LOT more information see the following or google rituximab for ms:

Before my neuro would approve rituxin therapy, he required a head and thoracic MRI with and without contrast. He also required the following blood tests: Immunoglobulins G.A.M., IGE total, Hepatitis B surface antigen, Hepatitis B surface antibody, Hepatitis B core antibody, Liver function panel, CBC Blood count and a basic metabolic panel. All in all, I gave up eight vials of blood, enough to make me dizzy.

I passed all of my blood tests and my MRI did not show any active lesions. However, based on my complaints regarding recent disease activity, I have been upgraded to secondary progressive and approved for rituxin therapy.

Rituxin, as used for people with MS, has shown a very good safety profile. It has been effectively used by the Rocky Mountain MS Clinic in Colorado with very few side effects. The most common side effects apparently are injection site irritation and a greater susceptibility to chest infections. According to one of the RMMSCís doctors, it has also been used on 900 patients in Sweden (or was it Switzerland) with no significant side effects. I believe there was a presentation about this at the recent ECTRIMS conference.

Many insurance companies will not cover the use of rituxin in people with MS, however some will approve use upon appeal or when threatened with a more expensive option. Medicare and SSDI do cover rituxin therapy in people with MS.

My neuro did warn me that I do not have the best profile for benefiting from rituximab therapy. I am too old and I have had MS for too long but he has willingly prescribed it for me.

I am currently going through a maze of vaccination twists and turns. I will post again when it all culminates.

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