MabThera is a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). MabThera helps reduce pain, swelling and fatigue, and prevent joint damage.

It works in a different way to other medicines, and could help when other treatments have stopped working or are not working well enough.

MabThera is a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). MabThera helps reduce pain, swelling and fatigue, and prevent joint damage.

It works in a different way to other medicines, and could help when other treatments have stopped working or are not working well enough.

MabThera combined with methotrexate is used in adults with severe RA. It is given as two infusions, two weeks apart. Clinical trials have shown that after just two doses of MabThera, most patients experienced an improvement in the signs and symptoms of their RA that lasts for 6 to 12 months.

MabThera is a Prescription Medicine and is free for those treated in the public hospital system that meet certain criteria. For patients being treated in the private healthcare system, an administration charge and normal doctor’s fees may apply.

How does it work?

MabThera belongs to a group of medicines known as monoclonal antibodies. It works by targeting and destroying a subset of B cells within the immune system. B cells are a type of blood cell used to fight infections. They contribute to the cause of inflammation in RA.

After it has initiated its effect, MabThera is cleared from the body but is able to leave a long-term impact on the B cells.

Is it effective?

Clinical trials have shown that after just two doses of MabThera therapy, many people experienced an improvement in the signs and symptoms of their RA that last for at least six months before requiring another course of treatment.

How is it given?

MabThera is given by slow injection into a vein (intravenous infusion or ‘drip’). It is given as two infusions, two weeks apart.

The infusion procedure

The infusion is given through a tube that is inserted into a vein in the hand or arm. Paracetamol (a medicine that relieves pain and fever), an antihistamine (a medicine that helps prevent allergic reactions such as sneezing and itching) and an infusion of methylprednisolone (a type of steroid) are given 30 minutes before each infusion to help reduce the severity and number of reactions.

During the infusion, patients are closely monitored. The first infusion takes around 4 hours; the second one may be quicker.

To get more information on MabThera, download the MabThera Patient Booklet

For more information on RA and access to a smart Self Assessment Tool, visit ra.org.nz

What are the benefits?

By reducing the number of B cells in the blood, MabThera may help reduce the effects of RA, such as pain, swelling and tiredness.

Given its different mode of action, MabThera can be used when typical RA medications stop working, are no longer tolerated or can’t be used. For some people, switching to MabThera may provide better control of RA than changing to another medicine in the same class of treatment.

Talk to your doctor to see if MabThera is right for you.

Possible Side Effects

MabThera helps many people with rheumatoid arthritis but it may have some unwanted side effects.

During the infusion or up to two hours after the infusion has finished, it is common to develop mild to moderate flu-like symptoms like headache, fever and chills (shivering), and a runny nose or sneezing.

Less frequently, some people experience sickness or vomiting, red, raised areas of skin, severe headache, tiredness, tongue or throat swelling and/or flushing and breathing difficulties.

These are some of the more common symptoms of MabThera. Click here to view the MabThera Consumer Medicines Information leaflet for information about other side effects. All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not. Patients may need medical attention if they get some of these side effects.

We hope this site has been helpful in answering your questions about MabThera. Talk to your doctor to see if MabThera is right for you.

For more information about RA, please talk to your doctor or visit www.ra.org.nz

This site was created by Roche Products (New Zealand) Limited. www.roche.co.nz

To contact Roche Products New Zealand Limited, email us at nz.info@roche.com or call 0800 656 464

MabThera® (rituximab), 100 mg in 10 mL and 500 mg in 50 mL concentrate for solution for infusion, is a Prescription Medicine used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA).

Do not use MabThera if: you have had an allergic reaction to MabThera or any of the ingredients, or to proteins of mouse origin.

Tell your doctor if: you are pregnant or breastfeeding or plan to become pregnant or breast-feed; you are taking medication to control blood pressure; you have any disorders or conditions affecting your lungs; you have a history of heart disease, or hepatitis B; you have an infection, or a history of a recurring or long-term infection; you intend to have or recently had immunisation with any vaccine; you are allergic to any other medicines, foods, dyes or preservatives.

Tell your doctor immediately or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Centre if you notice any of the following: infections with fever, severe chills, sore throat or mouth ulcers; severe skin rash, itching or hives; swelling of the face, lips, mouth or throat which may cause difficulty in swallowing or breathing, swelling of the hands, feet or ankles; severe shortness of breath, severe difficulty breathing, severe wheezing, severe coughing; numbness of the face; severe vision or hearing loss; vision loss associated with headaches, confusion and seizures; severe stomach pain, nausea or vomiting; confusion, disorientation or memory loss, changes in the way you move, walk or talk, decreased strength or progressive weakness in your body, blurred or loss of vision; yellowing of skin and eyes, light coloured bowel motions or dark coloured urine. Possible common side effects may also include: pain in stomach area; aching or painful muscles; painful or swollen joints; indigestion, heartburn; severe headache; high cholesterol; tingling, numbness of feet and hands or decreased sensitivity; infection; mouth ulcers; athlete’s foot; hair loss; anxiety; depression; diarrhoea; feeling faint; insomnia (inability to sleep).

MabThera has risks and benefits. Ask your doctor if MabThera is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional. For further information on MabThera, please talk to your health professional or visit www.medsafe.govt.nz for MabThera Consumer Medicine Information.

MabThera is a funded medicine for patients with RA who meet pre-defined criteria. A prescription charge and normal doctor’s fees may apply.

Consumer panel dated 16 January 2015 based on CMI dated 9 July 2014.

Roche Products (New Zealand) Limited, Auckland. Phone: 0800 656 464. www.roche.co.nz.

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