Research indicates that Rituximab has a better response rate in patients that have had ITP for under two years. It has been shown that 50-60% of patients during this timeframe achieve a platelet count of >50 x 109/L.
Patients that have had ITP for >5 years have a reduced response rate of 20-25%.
A response to treatment can also take up to eight weeks.
Rituximab or Rituxan is a monoclonal antibody directed against CD20, a marker of B lymphocytes and is a component of the first line of treatment in B cell lymphomas.
How Rituximab works is by targeting B lymphocytes, which produce the antibodies that destroy platelets. As a result of targeting these B cells, patients are more likely to have an increased risk of infection.
It is estimated that this treatment unfunded will cost between $3,000 and $12,000 per year. This is dependent on the dosage and frequency undertake. Rituximab is not government (PBS) funded for ITP treatment in Australia, so the cost will generally have to be met by the person with ITP or the treating hospital.
Rituximab is administered as an intravenous infusion, with the doses and delivery time determined by your medical professional.
Side effects include:
- Low grade fevers, headaches or chills
- Reduced responses to vaccines
- Stomach pain
- Night sweats
- Muscle or joint pain