Timesaver: Faster Rituximab Infusions Work Well in RA


(PODCAST) Good news for rheumatoid arthritis taking rituximab (and for those who infuse it): Speeding the infusion time does not increase infusion reactions.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients no longer need to build their lives around their rituximab infusions, and the medical staff can also speed the process: A prospective study shows that infusion reactions are no more common when the infusion time is shortened to two hours than they are at a rate slower than four hours.

Following on these results, Genentech has applied to the FDA for authorization of a faster infusion time for rituximab in RA patients.

Describing the RATE-RA study and its results in this short podcast is [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"25276","attributes":{"alt":"Dr. Charles Pritchard","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_8466656684396","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"2294","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"width: 133px; height: 162px; float: right;","title":" ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]principal investigator Charles Pritchard MD.

Dr. Pritchard practices rheumatology in Willow Grove PA and is an associate professor at Drexel University.

(See "Reference" below for a link to full text of the report.)

Key questions:

What led to the impression that there might be more reactions if the infusion was faster?

So the purpose of the study was partially to confirm what was already found in oncology patients and see whether it was also true for rheumatology patients?

Has there been any evidence of patients switching away from rituximab because of this problem?

Why didn't you do a controlled trial where you compared faster infusions against slower infusions in the same general population?

Key quotes:

This is most important for patients who want to get on with their lives, and for physicians who want to get on with other infusions they are doing.

Fortunately there's already been experience in the oncology setting with infusing patients at a faster rate ... though the way they infuse ... is at a different rate than we infuse for rheumatoid arthritis.

Where the patients get frustrated would usually be beforehand, when they know they have an active life and they have to plan around these infusions.


Pritchard CH,  Greenwald MW, Kremer JM, et al.Safety of infusing rituximab at a more rapid rate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the RATE-RA study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. (2014) 15:177. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-177.

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