Nephrotic syndrome is a disorder characterized by proteinuria, hypoalbuminemia and dyslipidemia. Low-dose alternate-day steroid regimen is the standard of care. In case of relapse or significant adverse events, steroid-sparing agents may be used. This analysis was aimed at assessing the efficacy and safety of rituximab for the treatment of children with nephrotic syndrome.
Four studies were included in the final meta-analysis. The end-point of our analysis was the percentage of patients in remission at 6 months. Pooled data from the four studies favours the use of rituximab (RR 5.25, 95 % CI: 3.05–9.06; p < 0.0001). As regards the safety data, rituximab has a limited number of adverse effects, the most common of which occur during the infusions.
In Italy, the off-label use of drugs is regulated by Law 648/96. In our opinion, there are three scientific requirements to merit a conditional national reimbursement for rituximab in nephrotic syndrome: 1. favourable clinical efficacy and safety data; 2. no available alternatives; 3. outcome data collecting by AIFA through prescribers. In conclusion, our results report a significant incremental benefit of adding rituximab to corticosteroid and/or calcineurin inhibitors for the treatment of nephrotic syndrome.