…Most patients can continue taking immunosuppressants
The authors said that patients taking immunosuppressive drugs can safely continue, but that those on rituximab should talk with their physician about their options.
“At a minimum, people who take rituximab should continue to protect themselves from developing COVID-19,” lead author Kayte Andersen, MSc, a doctoral candidate, said in a Johns Hopkins University press release. “It also makes it all the more important that people around those taking rituximab get vaccinated.”
In a related commentary, David Liew, MBBS, PhD, of the University of Melbourne and Philip Robinson, MBBS, PhD, of the University of Queensland School of Clinical Medicine, both in Australia, said that patients taking rituximab can either continue taking it and use post-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) with monoclonal antibodies or new small-molecule antiviral treatments or pre-exposure prophylaxis with long-acting monoclonal antibodies.
Alternatively, Liew and Robinson said, physicians might prescribe other therapies, which they acknowledged is difficult in the treatment of some indications for which rituximab is first-line therapy.
“The detriment from choosing an inferior option…will need to be balanced against potentially improved outcomes with COVID-19,” they wrote. “This equation will vary with new SARS-CoV-2 variants, changing epidemiology, and between individual patients; currently, such a complex decision lacks data to inform it…”