Hey folks. I've got some exciting news and changes upcoming. If you read my post over at MS Central yesterday, then you know what I'm talking about. My rheumatologist and I have agreed, with the blessing and excitement of my neurologist, to try Rituxan to treat my rheumatoid arthritis.
Coincidentally, Rituxan (rituximab) is being studied as an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody treatment for relapsing MS. It depletes the B-cells as opposed to the T-cells which are depleted by Tysabri. And just like Tysabri, it carries significant risks.
Here are the results of the Phase 2 trial which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2008. Trials of rituximab in progressive MS were unsuccessful.
I have some investigating to do in regards to insurance coverage, hospital preference (it is administered in the hospital as infusion-related adverse events were noted during the initial infusion), pre-authorizations, financial assistance from Biogen or Genetech (makers of the drug), and finding someone who has the seasonal flu vaccine as both my doctors' offices are out right now.
I will be receiving a 6-hour infusion on Day 1 and again on Day 15 (which makes up one course of treatment) followed by another course of treatment 6 months later. This is the standard protocol as used in rheumatoid arthritis (which I certainly have for those who are wondering at off-label use).
My neurologist wants me to stop Copaxone for two weeks beforehand and I will continue to use methotrexate which is a requirement for use of Rituxan in RA.
I've been digging into research studies and do like what I see in regards to RA effectiveness. If it helps my MS, that's even better!!!
Of course, I will keep everybody posted on the process and my experience.