Department of Pharmacy, Karmanos Cancer Center, Detroit, MI, USA.
Purpose: Treatment with rituximab can be associated with hepatitis B reactivation leading to fulminant hepatitis and sometimes fatal hepatitis. The manufacturer has recommended screening the high-risk patients and monitoring hepatitis B virus carriers during and several months after the therapy. Prophylaxis with lamivudine has been recommended to prevent reactivation in hepatitis B virus carriers receiving rituximab. An institutional guideline was developed and implemented. This study evaluated the adherence to these clinical guidelines of hepatitis B screening in patients receiving rituximab-based treatment, the use of lamivudine prophylaxis, and the prevalence of positive hepatitis B virus surface antigen in this patient population in southeast Michigan.
A retrospective chart review of patients begun on rituximab therapy from January 2009 through June 2010 was conducted.
Two hundred and eighty patients who received rituximab were identified. Approximately 70% of patients had hepatitis B virus surface antigen screening test prior to rituximab therapy. Antibody to hepatitis B virus core antigen was detected in 11.1% of patients, although the hepatitis B virus surface antigen positive rate was only 0.6%. One patient had hepatitis B virus reactivation despite lamivudine prophylaxis, but fully recovered after antiviral therapy was changed to tenofovir.
The prevalence of hepatitis B virus surface antigen positivity is low in this study; however, antibody to hepatitis B virus core antigen positivity is high. Education to clinicians is warranted to increase awareness and further improve adherence to the clinical guidelines.