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      The efficacy and safety of rituximab in treating childhood nephrotic syndrome: an Italian perspective

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          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.

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          Most cited references 8

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          Rituximab for childhood-onset, complicated, frequently relapsing nephrotic syndrome or steroid-dependent nephrotic syndrome: a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial.

          Rituximab could be an effective treatment for childhood-onset, complicated, frequently relapsing nephrotic syndrome (FRNS) and steroid-dependent nephrotic syndrome (SDNS). We investigated the efficacy and safety of rituximab in patients with high disease activity.
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            Short-term effects of rituximab in children with steroid- and calcineurin-dependent nephrotic syndrome: a randomized controlled trial.

            Prednisone and calcineurin inhibitors are the mainstay therapy of idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS) in children. However, drug dependence and toxicity associated with protracted use are common. Case series suggest that the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab (RTX) may maintain disease remission. This open-label randomized controlled trial was powered to show that a strategy based on RTX and lower doses of prednisone and calcineurin inhibitors was noninferior to standard doses of these agents in maintaining 3-month proteinuria as low as baseline or up to 1 g/d greater (noninferiority margin). Participants were stratified by the presence of toxicity to prednisone/calcineurin inhibitors and centrally assigned to add RTX (Mabthera, 375 mg/m(2) intravenously) to lower doses of standard agents or to continue with current therapy alone. The risk of relapse was a secondary outcome. Fifty-four children (mean age 11 ± 4 years) with INS dependent on prednisone and calcineurin inhibitors for >12 months were randomized. Three-month proteinuria was 70% lower in the RTX arm (95% confidence interval 35% to 86%) as compared with standard therapy arm (intention-to-treat); relapse rates were 18.5% (intervention) and 48.1% (standard arm) (P = 0.029). Probabilities of being drug-free at 3 months were 62.9% and 3.7%, respectively (P < 0.001); 50% of RTX cases were in stable remission without drugs after 9 months. Rituximab and lower doses of prednisone and calcineurin inhibitors are noninferior to standard therapy in maintaining short-term remission in children with INS dependent on both drugs and allow their temporary withdrawal.
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              Ofatumumab for rituximab-resistant nephrotic syndrome.


                Author and article information

                02.55032343 ,
                Ital J Pediatr
                Ital J Pediatr
                Italian Journal of Pediatrics
                BioMed Central (London )
                12 July 2016
                12 July 2016
                : 42
                [ ]Hospital Pharmacy, Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda - Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milano, Italy
                [ ]School of Specialization in Hospital Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, University of Milano, Milano, Italy
                [ ]Pediatric Nephrology and Dialysis Unit, Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, University of Milan, Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda - Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milano, Italy
                © The Author(s). 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                © The Author(s) 2016


                reimbursement, rituximab, nephrotic syndrome, 648/96 law, off label


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