Rituxan (also known as rituximab) is an intravenous drug sometimes used to treat B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, rheumatoid arthritis and other medical conditions. Although it can be an effective form of treatment, it may cause potentially dangerous side effects of which patients should be aware and discuss with their doctor.
Serious Side Effects Associated With Rituxan
The following are some of the potentially dangerous side effects that Rituxan might cause:
- respiratory problems (pulmonary infiltrates, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and hypoxia);
- kidney failure;
- liver disease;
- cardiovascular problems (irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and heart attack);
- Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy-PML (life-threatening brain infection); and
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome (life-threatening skin condition).
These side effects are more likely to occur when a patient experiences an adverse reaction to the drug, which is why it’s important a doctor looks for signs of adverse reactions.
In some cases it may warrant slowing down or stopping the treatment. Although reactions can happen shortly after receiving rituximab, they can also occur several weeks or even months later. To prevent a reaction, the patient may receive an antihistamine and Tylenol prior to the IV infusion.
Signs That a Patient Should Contact a Doctor Immediately
Because adverse reactions can take time to develop, it’s important to look for some of the following signs that may indicate it’s time to call a doctor:
- wheezing, coughing or other breathing difficulties;
- persistent nausea/vomiting;
- severe stomach pains;
- vision problems;
- skin peeling;
- yellowing skin/eyes;
- changes in amount of urine;
- dark urine;
- chest pain;
- changes in heartbeat; and
- swelling in the lips or throat.
It’s best to contact a doctor when there are any sudden changes or when you suspect an adverse reaction to the medication.
Liability for a Dangerous Drug That Causes Serious or Fatal Injuries
There are circumstances in which a severe or life-threatening reaction/side effect may warrant seeking legal action. In some cases the doctor may be liable for injuries if the doctor acted negligently and the negligence led to the injuries.
For instance, it could be that the doctor failed to warn of the side effects before prescribing the treatment. Or the physician may have prescribed the wrong dose. It may even be that the doctor prescribed a medication without considering other medications the patient was taking.
For example, Rituxan may interact with other anti-cancer drugs as well as those to treat high blood pressure. These are just some examples that may warrant filing a claim against the physician who prescribed or ordered the medication.
Other times a dangerous drug may result in taking legal action against the manufacturer. Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture a dangerous drug could be liable for injuries, especially if the drug was defective.
Discuss this with an attorney to review whether you have a valid case against a manufacturer. For example, if the doctor prescribed it incorrectly, the manufacturer may not be liable for any adverse reactions because the drug was used improperly.
When to Contact an Attorney
Whenever serious or fatal harm occurs as a result of taking a medication, it’s important to consider whether or not it was preventable and if you may have a valid legal claim against a doctor, manufacturer or other party. This would warrant seeking legal advice from an attorney.
If an attorney determines there is a valid case, the injured patient or his or her family may pursue legal action to recover compensation for losses related to medical bills, missed work time, pain and suffering and more. Set up your consultation with Gacovino, Lake & Associates by calling 800-550-0000 or contact us online.