JointHealth™ express   March 7, 2013

Health Canada issues "dear doctor" letter about rituximab

Health Canada is responsible for ensuring that medications approved for use in Canada are safe and effective for Canadians who need to take them. It is their responsibility to receive reports about medication side effects from the public, medical community, and the manufacturers who make medications. They inform the medical community and the public about side effects through "dear doctor" letters.

Hoffman-La Roche Limited, the manufacturer of rituximab (Rituxan®), informed Health Canada about the association of the medication with an adverse event. So, on February 25, 2013, the pharmaceutical company, in consultation with Health Canada, issued a "Dear Health Care Professional" letter declaring that in very rare cases, rituximab has been linked to Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN).

Every medication has risks and benefits. Though this side effect is serious, it is also very rare. We encourage you to consider the risks of undertreated or untreated disease against a holistic treatment plan:
  • An early, aggressive treatment approach for inflammatory arthritis will reduce pain, slow disease progression, and raise the chance of your disease going into clinical remission
  • Biologics work by suppressing the body’s overactive immune response, which can raise the risk of infection, in addition to other complications
  • Inflammatory forms of arthritis can shorten life span and cause pain, joint deformity, and disability.
As with all aspects of your treatment plan, please speak to your doctor if you have questions.

To read the full Health Canada advisory for healthcare professionals, please click here.

And to read the advisory for the public, click here.